A season of ups, downs, twists, turns, and a few nauseating drops ended in relief for the St. John’s men’s basketball program as they snuck their way into the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
The Red Storm will partake in one of the tournament’s First Four games on Friday in Dayton, OH where they will play Arizona State for the right to the No. 11 seed in the West region. The winner will go on to play No. 6 Buffalo in Tulsa, OK.
St. Johns’ inconsistencies made them an almost-incalculable team throughout 2018-19, which made their status such an unknown leading up to Selection Sunday.
On one hand, the Queens school boasted five Quadrant 1 wins, which means recording victories against teams ranked 1-30 at home, 1-50 at a neutral site, or 1-75 on the road. St. John’s also picked up four wins against teams ranked within the nation’s top-31 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), including a pair of wins against No. 23 Marquette and another against No. 25 Villanova, who won the Big East on Saturday night and are the reigning national champions.
While those were the highs of the season, there were some pretty disappointing lows. They lost four of their last five games of the regular season, including a defeat to the conference’s last-place team DePaul, a seventh-place finish in the Big East, and a 32-point beatdown at the hands of Marquette in the conference tournament.
A 21-12 record might have been the school’s best record since 2014-15, but their out-of-conference strength of schedule was ranked 214th in the nation and their NET rating was 72. That was the lowest of any team that was in the NCAA Tournament discussion.
It’s poor timing to have such a low NET rating considering this was the first year the selection committee used the metric instead of the infamous RPI.
St. John’s didn’t have much help from other conferences that could have kept open some at-large bids over the past week, either. St. Mary’s stole an at-large bid in the West Coast Conference, normally a one-bid league, by upsetting the nation’s No. 1 Gonzaga.
The Atlantic 10 also saw its top seed in VCU go down in the quarterfinals, allowing the conference’s No. 6 seed, Saint Louis, to take another bid off the table.
Out in the Pac 12, No. 6 Oregon rolled over No. 1 Washington by 20 on Saturday night, making it that much more difficult for the committee to find a spot to get St. John’s in the dance.
Among other notable New York-area teams:
– Syracuse is the No. 8 seed in the West Region. They will face No. 9 Baylor on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
– Seton Hall nabbed the No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region where they will meet the dangerous Wofford on Thursday.
-Patriot League champions Colgate was awarded the No. 15 seed in the South Region. They’ll face the powerful No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers on Friday.
-MAAC champions Iona is in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year. As the 16th seed in the Midwest Region, they’ll face No. 1 North Carolina on Friday.