It feels like Christmas morning for me today. St. John’s and Iona, my two favorite NCAA teams, both play in great games tonight against tough opponents. Tonight, Rick Pitino will make his coaching debut for the Gaels, while St. John’s takes on Boston College at Bubbleville.
St. John’s vs. Boston College
St. John’s tipped off their season last Wednesday with a win in a close game against St. Peter’s, followed by a dominating performance against La Salle. Tonight they look to extend their winning streak to three games as they take on Boston College at Mohegan Sun.
Boston College is coming off a pair of strong performances in the 2K Empire Classic. In their first matchup of the tournament they faced an extremely strong Villanova team who was ranked as the nations top team in our Sideline Sports preseason rankings. While they fell short of a win, the put up a good fight against Jay Wrights squad. They tied the Wildcats in the first half and were in the game until the final buzzer. In their second game of the tournament they pulled out a 5-point victory against Rhode Island.
The story for the Johnnies in their first two games was the strong impact made by their newcomers. Vince Cole, JUCO transfer, was lighting up the scoreboard in both of his first two games with the Red Storm. Through the first two games he is averaging 20 points per, including the game winner against St. Peter’s on opening night. Freshmen point guard, Posh Alexander, also made a big splash in his first two outings at St. John’s. Alexander was a menace on the defensive side of the floor and played aggressive on offensive, creating numerous opportunities both for himself and for others.
Boston College is a big step up from St. John’s previous opponents. Playing ACC competition will be a good test to the newcomers and the veterans to see where this team is really at. I think if Julian Champagnie (day-to-day) plays tonight, the Johnnies grab win number 3 on the season.
The Pick: Under
The Under is 6-0 in St. John’s last 6 games played at a neutral site, and 4-0 in BC’s last four neutral site games.
Iona @ Seton Hall
Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels are traveling down to the Prudential Center to face Kevin Willard and the Seton Hall Pirates. This game was literally scheduled on November 28th, just two days prior.
Obviously, the biggest storyline in this one is Rick Pitino’s return to college basketball after some time away due to NCAA violations. Pitino uprooted last years Iona team and recruited an almost entire new team in the matter of months. He brought in some highly respected players who are ready to show what they got on the big stage.
The Gaels are unfortunately without two projected starters, Asante Gist and Osborn Shema (7-foot-1 JUCO transfer). Returning players such as captains Isaiah Ross and Dylan Van-Eyck are expected to step up and lead a rather inexperienced Iona squad this year. Tahlik Chavez and Berrick Jeanlouis are among newcomers who will get substantial playing time tonight and will likely be leaned on heavily.
Seton Hall is coming off a 1-point loss to a very strong Louisville team. It should be noted that prior to this game Seton Hall had had extremely limited practice because they were in quarantine. Sandro Mamukelashvili has an exceptional performance in the opener, scoring 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Mamukelashvili and the Pirates come into this game as -19 point favorites, and should roll over Iona in dominate fashion.
HOWEVER with so many new pieces in maroon and gold, taking the spread in this one is much to big a risk.
The Pick: Don’t bet on this game. (Gamble responsibly)