If Butler or St. John’s want to shock the world and salvage an underwhelming season, it’s going to have to start Wednesday in New York. St. John’s enters as a 5.5-point favorite with the over/under 144.5 points for this Big East Tournament matchup. Let’s make predictions for Wednesday’s game and take a look at why the Red Storm are poised to roll to the quarterfinals.
Butler vs. St. John’s College Prediction
Butler continues to play lifeless basketball, dropping four of its last five games including a home loss to Georgetown. Just 4-11 away from home, the Bulldogs haven’t given me any reason to believe in them. They play clean and keep mistakes low, but if the talent hasn’t been enough yet, it won’t be enough here.
St. John’s has disappointed as well, but this team at least has offensive firepower and has put up large amounts of points against some of the Big East’s best teams. Joel Soriano and Posh Alexander can be the two best offensive players on the floor, while Soriano and David Jones give St. John’s a huge rebounding advantage over a small Butler team. I’m not confident in Butler’s ability to slow St. John’s frontcourt down or keep up on the offensive side of the ball. This feels like a comfortable win for the Red Storm.
Butler vs. St. John’s Prediction: St. John’s -5.5
Butler vs. St. John’s Odds
St. John’s enters as a 5.5-point favorite, sitting at -245 on the moneyline. The over/under is 144.5 points.
These teams both disappointed this season, but St. John’s has looked more formidable against the top teams in the Big East. Thad Matta has coached in many important games in his career, though. Can his Bulldogs make a splash during the last week of the season?
Butler vs. St. John’s Key Matchups
Here are some key matchups that could decide Butler vs. St. John’s.
St. John’s Rebounding vs. Butler Rebounding
There’s a huge discrepancy between these two teams, and it comes on the boards. Butler is an abysmal rebounding team, ranking 359th in the nation with Manny Bates the only player averaging more than 5.5 rebounds per game, while St. John’s is 9th in the nation and has a rebounding force in Joel Soriano.
Soriano averages 11.8 boards per game, and frontcourt mate David Jones is pretty imposing himself with 6.7 per game. That duo is a major reason why I’m picking the Johnnies in my Butler vs. St. John’s prediction.
This is one reason the Red Storm were able to hang with Marquette on the final day of the regular season, out-rebounding the Golden Eagles 36-25. Butler is a much more favorable matchup for the Johnnies, and these second chance opportunities thanks to Soriano and Jones could easily be the difference in this battle of disappointing teams.
Free Throw Battle
These two teams split their regular season series, even though St. John’s certainly seems like the more well-rounded team. Butler had one real advantage over the Red Storm both times: the free throw battle. The Bulldogs attempted 21 free throws to St. John’s six in their win over Mike Anderson’s team, and they even won the free throw battle 16-11 in their loss.
Opponents attempt only 13.1 free throws per game against Butler, giving the Bulldogs the 7th-best mark in the nation. Thad Matta’s team has had all kinds of issues on the offensive end this season, struggling against the very worst teams in the Big East, but a lack of mistakes defensively makes this a winnable game.
It may even be more impressive when you consider Butler doesn’t have great size or a strong interior defense. The Bulldogs don’t try to make up for what they don’t have by fouling, which may allow Soriano to rack up some points in the paint but won’t send him to the line unnecessarily.
Butler does have a strong perimeter defense and defends the three well, so if Soriano happens to have an off game, there’s a path to win.