Could we see this matchup again in New York next week? Marquette already locked up the No. 1 seed in the Big East, meaning St. John’s will face Butler for the right to play the Golden Eagles in the conference quarterfinals. If the Johnnies want to pull off a shocker at MSG, they might want to start building confidence on Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for this weekend’s matchup in Milwaukee
St. John’s vs. Marquette Odds
Marquette enters as a heavy 11.5-point favorite, sitting at -690 on the moneyline. The over/under is 158.5 points.
St. John’s wasn’t completely blown out by Marquette last time these two faced off, but that game wasn’t in Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles have been dangerous at home and should get this win. With the Big East title locked up, though, is Shaka Smart’s team poised for a closer game than expected?
St. John’s vs. Marquette Prediction & Pick
You can’t say enough about how reliable of a team Marquette has become. From not relying on any specific player to being smart with the ball, Smart has built a juggernaut in Milwaukee. It’s fair to have some pause over whether the Golden Eagles will be fully motivated with nothing left to play for in the regular season, but I find it hard to believe Smart would let his team get away with that.
Marquette has the kind of offensive firepower that can wreck St. John’s porous defense, and the chances of the Red Storm putting up the same number of points against this team as they did at home are slim. The Golden Eagles can absolutely win this one by 14-20 points. Marquette -11.5 is the pick.
St. John’s vs. Marquette Key Matchups
One storyline to watch will be whether Marquette isn’t as motivated in the final game of the regular season with the Big East locked up. Shaka Smart’s team would need to be seriously unmotivated to get caught in a tight game, though.
Marquette isn’t a team with a flashy star. It’s not too old but not too young. The Golden Eagles play as a team and win as a team. That’s going to be very difficult for St. John’s to contend with on the road.
The Red Storm surrendered 96 points at home last time they faced Marquette, getting torched by Olivier-Maxence Prosper (29 points, 9-of-13 shooting). Even if they rein in Prosper, it’s going to be nearly impossible for such a leaky defense to deal with the efficiency of Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones.
Kolek seems to be coming into his own with 18.2 points per game in his last nine, plus he has 24 assists over his last two games. He’s the best example of Marquette’s smart, unselfish basketball. The Golden Eagles average under 11 turnovers per game.
This smart, safe style of play is destined to overpower St. John’s underwhelming defense. The question will be whether the Red Storm have the offense to keep up with Marquette.
St. John’s will have a pretty decisive rebounding advantage in this one, as the Red Storm are 9th in rebounds per game while Marquette is 323rd. Joel Soriano and David Jones should perform well on the boards and do much of the offensive work for St. John’s.
Soriano had a big day the last time these two faced off, posting 22 points and 13 rebounds. Marquette might have to live with that. The closest thing the Golden Eagles have to match Soriano’s size is Oso Ighodaro, who averages under six rebounds.
Even if Soriano goes off, Marquette just has to keep a bad three-point shooting team quiet from beyond the arc. The Johnnies don’t attempt many threes and shoot 32.6% when they do. St. John’s shot fairly well from deep against Marquette in January, but with only 17 attempts it just wasn’t enough.
St. John’s did put up 85 points against this team. While 85 is very unlikely in this setting, the offense likely won’t be the primary issue for Mike Anderson’s team. Marquette’s offense will be the issue for St. John’s.