St. John’s Red Storm vs. Seton Hall Pirates Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 18th 2024

Picked ninth in the preseason Big East poll, Seton Hall is in the mix for a top-four finish.

St. John’s, on the other hand, is trying to avoid finishing toward the bottom half of the standings after expectations were raised under new coach Rick Pitino.

Two teams on the NCAA bubble and trending differently convene Sunday in Elmont, N.Y. when ascending Seton Hall visits struggling St. John’s.

The Pirates (16-9, 9-5 Big East) have won three of four since a three-game losing streak to Creighton, Providence and Marquette Jan. 20-27. Those games took place immediately after Seton Hall earned an 80-65 home win over St. John’s on Jan. 16 when it scored 28 straight points bridging the first and second halves.

Seton Hall enters this weekend with a NET ranking of 68 and is attempting to move to 5-5 in Quad 1 games. The Pirates absorbed an 80-54 loss at Villanova last Sunday but are coming off an impressive wire-to-wire 88-70 dismantling of Xavier on Wednesday.

Kadary Richmond collected 20 points, a season-high 13 assists and eight rebounds Wednesday, including scoring 11 straight Seton Hall points in the second half. Al-Amir Dawes added 18 and both will be asked to lead the way again, especially if Dre Davis cannot play due to an ankle injury sustained against Xavier that has him as a game-time decision.

“(Villanova) was like a wake-up call for us,” Richmond said. “We can’t coast. We have to bring it every night.”

St. John’s (14-11, 6-8) enters this weekend with a 46 NET ranking but is trending in the wrong direction of late. The Red Storm won four of their first five conference games but are 2-7 in their past nine.

After blowing a 15-point lead at Marquette on Feb. 10, St. John’s trailed by 13 four times in the first half and then blew a five-point halftime lead in a 75-72 loss at Providence that marked its fifth conference defeat when leading after halftime.

“We intend to win our final six games,” Pitino said.

Joel Soriano scored nine points off the bench Wednesday and is averaging 11 points in his past nine after averaging 16.4 in his first five Big East games.

St. John’s also has been outscored by 78 in its past nine contests and Zuby Ejiofor could start again for Soriano, whose effort level was cited by Pitino as a reason for the change.

–Field Level Media

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