Overview: The last time these two teams met, the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7 in Big East) shocked the Bearcats (16-7, 6-4 in Big East) at Fifth Third Arena on a last minute tip-in by Maurice Harkless. St. John’s went into the game on a two game losing streak and had yet to win a road game. Cincinnati, on the other hand, was white-hot riding a seven game winning streak. The 57-55 victory by the young Johnnies has proven to be one of their more impressive wins on the season. The past three meetings between Cincinnati and St. John’s have all been close, with each game being decided by two points. Also, the previous three games between the two programs have seen the road team win each game.
Players to Watch: For Cincinnati- Sean Kilpatrick, the White Plains native who was once committed to St. John’s under Norm Roberts, is the Bearcats‘ leading scorer, averaging 15.4 points per game. This game, however, might come down to the trenches. Therefore, Yancy Gates will play a pivotal role for Cincinnati. The 6’9″ senior is averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, 3.1 of them coming on the offensive glass. St. John’s is ranked 173rd in the country in rebounding and known for having minimal size this season. Translation: Gates will be handful for the Johnnies.
For St. John’s- Mo Harkless will need to have a big game in order for the Red Storm to win. The Queens native is the team’s top rebounder and second-ranked scorer. St. John’s will also need SG D’Angelo Harrison, their top-scorer, to have a productive day, especially from behind the three point arc. In more of the unsung variety, God’sgift Achiuwa will have the task of guarding and controlling Yates. If he does so, St. John’s has a great chance of winning.
Prediction: Cincinnati 72, St. John’s 68. The young Johnnies will put up a fight with their athleticism, but an experienced Cincinnati ball club with size that is playing for a NCAA Tournament bid will prove to be too much.