For the month of February, nobody was playing better basketball than Villanova Wildcats in the BIG EAST. Lately, it's been all about St. John's Red Storm, who have turned a 3-6 record in to a 10-7 record in a month and are playing their best basketball of the season. They've been so good in fact, that Steve Lavin is discussing a contract extension after being on the hot seat earlier this year.
Both clubs have seemingly locked up NCAA Tournament bids and are essentially playing for seeding at this point. Villanova is chasing a #1 seed and can't afford a loss if they want to hang on to it, while St. John's currently resides on the 8-line but has been trending up for weeks. A road win over Villanova would put a bow on their resume - and it could have possible Big East Tournament seeding implications too if other games go a certain way.
Here's three things to think about heading in to Saturday.
Sir'Dominic Pointer has been in full-on assault mode
Since the loss to Villanova in early January, Pointer has been the best player for the Johnnies. He's recorded six double-doubles, has been a block/steal machine, and has upped his scoring dramatically. If he's not on the All-Big East 1st Team there's been a horrible mistake.
Darrun Hilliard will likely draw Pointer on defense, and as good as he's been, he's very prone to foul trouble. And St. John's cannot afford to lose him like they did for Villanova's visit to Madison Square Garden. Hilliard would be well-served to go right at Pointer and not settle for jumpers.
What version of D'Angelo Harrison will show up?
We've made plenty of jokes on here about Harrison's tendency to sulk and complain when things aren't going his way, and 'Nova fans would surely like to see more of it on Saturday. Georgetown had his numbers, holding him to 0-13 shooting across two games this season.
As Wildcats fans no all too well though, Harrison can heat up quickly. He typically needs a lot of shots to do it too - it will be interesting to see how the senior responds if things aren't going his way early. Rysheed Jordan and Pointer have been playing much better on offense. Will Harrison need to 'get his' or will he mesh in to the team dynamic and help the Johnnies continue their winning ways?
Jay Wright gets his team to bounce back from a poor outing
There haven't been too many bad performances from the Wildcats, but they tend to bounce back quickly and with authority. After losing at Seton Hall, they destroyed St. John's on the road by 18. After being exposed at Georgetown, they hammered Creighton by 21. And after a poor defensive effort in a win at Marquette, they (to borrow an expression from Titus) mutilated Providence by 28.
The narrow win over Creighton definitely falls in to the poor outing category - expect a refocused group on Saturday afternoon in the final home game of the season.