The Villanova Wildcats are back in action this Wednesday in Queens, New York, where they will take on the St. John’s Red Storm. The game marks the first matchup against these two teams this season. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.
Villanova is coming off an 80-72 victory over Seton Hall, advancing their overall record this season to 11-1, while their Big East record remains undefeated (6-0).
The Red Storm is quickly heating up after they pulled off the near victory against Marquette (75-73), extending their winning streak to four games. The Red Storm is now 11-7 on the season.
So, what can Villanova expect from the red-hot Red Storm?
For starters, the Red Storm has the Big East’s leading scorer, Julian Champagnie.
The 6-foot-8 guard-forward scores nearly an average of 20 points a game for St. John’s. He’s a matchup nightmare that also uses his size to his advantage against smaller guards to get to the paint. This year, he’s even added a three-point shot to his arsenal, cashing in on a much-improved 43.0% of his three-pointers (up from 31.2% his freshman year). Champagnie plays aggressively on both sides of the ball, grabbing an average of 6.8 rebounds a game. Villanova can expect Champagnie to be the go-to guy for the Red Storm on Wednesday night.
‘40 Minutes of Hell’
The Wildcats always try to play Villanova Basketball for all 40 minutes. St. John’s has its own brand, “40 Minutes of Hell,” coined by head coach Mike Anderson.
The Red Storm love to run a fast-paced style of play, using their athleticism and quickness to cause mayhem all over the floor.
Offensively, the Red Storm averages 79.6 points per game, putting St. John’s at No. 41 in the NCAA for scoring. Its the second-highest scoring average in the Big East, only a step behind Creighton for the top spot.
It seems the strategy for the Red Storm is all about scoring and not so much about defending. It allows an average of 77.1 points to be scored on them — the worst in the Big East — which causes there to be little to no room for error on the offensive end.
Keys for the ‘Cats
As for Villanova, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will be a crucial player in the game against St. John’s. The 6-foot-9 sophomore scored an impressive 23 points in only 20 minutes of gameplay against Seton Hall. He will be a challenging matchup for the Red Storm’s defense, and will try to build off of his big performance last weekend.
Something Villanova has to watch out for is turning the ball over. Yes, St. John’s defense is weak. Yes, the Wildcats turn the ball over the fewest amount of times in the country. However, the Red Storm is skilled at generating turnovers and stealing the ball. While they give up a lot of points, they’ll gamble and go for the steal and convert them into fast-break opportunities and easy points.
The Red Storm average the fourth most steals in the NCAA, picking opponents 9.9 times per game. Villanova has been great at taking care of the ball so far this season and it can’t let up or get too comfortable on offense, as coughing the ball up or giving up those easy points can pose an issue for the ‘Cats if St. John’s starts forcing turnovers.