With Syracuse regaining a tie of first place in a victory over Notre Dame last Monday, it is equally as important to continue to create some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference. With the Marquette blowout win over South Florida yesterday, the Orange and Golden Eagles are both atop the Big East with a 7-2 conference record, with Louisville right on their heels at 7-3. That makes this Sunday’s game against St. John’s very big for Syracuse, and St. Johns is one of the hottest teams in the conference.
The Red Storm have won six of their last seven games, with wins over Notre Dame and Connecticut. The Johnnies were up by as many as 15 points against UConn last night before winning by 6 in Madison Square Garden. Syracuse has owned the series over St. John’s as of late, but with the Red Storm hanging around in the conference standings, the Orange will without a doubt get the Johhnies’ best shot this weekend.
This is an opponent for Syracuse that absolutely looks better than their record indicates. St. John’s is 15-8 on the season, including losses to Murray State, San Fransisco, and UNC-Asheville. The Red Storm have undoubtedly made impressive improvements over the course of the season, and this game is absolutely one Syracuse can lose if they don’t show up to play. The Johnnies enter the game with a 55 RPI, which is impressive for a team that has had as big of a roller coaster of a season anybody can have.
The game this weekend is the first of an absolutely brutal stretch for St. John’s down the stretch for the final seven games of the season. Five of the remaining seven games on the Red Storm’s schedule are against ranked teams, with three of those five games being on the road. Once the Johnnies are done in Syracuse, they head down to the YUM center for a matchup with Louisville before heading back to New York to play USF. If St. John’s can split the two games between the Orange and Cardinals, it could take them a long way in making their case for an NCAA postseason birth.
This is a team that seems to have rallied around each other, and have been taking care of business against teams they should beat. This leads to a very confident team heading in to the Dome on Sunday, and the Orange are going to have their hands full throughout the afternoon with the St. John’s guards.
Are the Orange a favorite? Absolutely. Does that mean this game will be a cake walk for Syracuse? It should be, but it won’t be. Syracuse has far superior talent to St. John’s, and smart money would definitely go on Syracuse for a betting man. But the fact that St. John’s have been hot lately, combined with the fact that they really need to win one of these next two in order to make a statement that they are for real gives me the feeling that this one is going to be a battle in to the second half at the very least.