On Sunday, unranked St. John’s defeated then 12th-ranked Creighton 70-65. Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com listed the Red Storm as ‘On The Bubble’ in his most recent Bracketology.
Major conference teams that want to have an opportunity to make a March Madness appearance typically need a ‘statement’ victory. Prior to Sunday, the Red Storm’s best victory was against Providence.
The Red Storm had been 0-4 against ranked opponents on the season. Their game against the Bluejays was deemed a ‘must-win’ by some collegiate basketball experts if they wanted to have an opportunity to make a March Madness appearance.
The Bluejays-Red Storm game was very competitive, but the key in the game was the Red Storm’s defense in the latter part of the second half.
Entering the game, the Red Storm knew that they had to contain Wooden Award candidate Doug McDermott; one of the Bluejays’ forwards. He had 25 points with a little less than nine minutes remaining in the game.
The Red Storm played tight defense on McDermott down the stretch. The Red Storm’s defense was so effective on him that he did not have a field goal attempt in the final 8:40, according to ESPN.com.
They emerged from the game with the signature victory their season needed; 70-64. This victory enhanced their March Madness resume.
The Red Storm have had one of the toughest schedules this season. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, BPI, the Red Storm have had the 18th-toughest schedule.
Their schedule has been tougher than teams like top-ranked Syracuse and second-ranked Arizona, according to ESPN.com. The Red Storm also have a very good Ratings Percentage Index, RPI.
The Red Storm are tied with Belmont for the 62nd-best RPI. This statistic is important because the NCAA, March Madness, Selection Committee uses it to evaluate teams, according to ESPN.com
It does not matter how difficult a team’s schedule is, if they cannot win those difficult games.
The Red Storm are now 5-8 against the BPI’s Top 100 teams. This includes 1-5 against the BPI’s Top 50 teams, according to ESPN.com.
The problem for the Red Storm’s resume is that they have a 15-9 record and only one victory against a BPI Top 50 team. The good news for the Red Storm is that there are at least seven games remaining before the Big East Conference Tournament.
The toughest opponent the Red Storm will face during the regular season is sixth-ranked Villanova. The Red Storm will be facing the Wildcats for the second time this season.
On Jan. 11, the then eighth-ranked Wildcats defeated the Red Storm 74-67. This was in the midst of the Red Storm’s 0-5 start in Conference play.
The Red Storm have won six of their last nine games since the Wildcats defeated them. This has allowed them to go from being a borderline National Invitation Tournament, NIT, team to a possible March Madness team.
The magic number for teams having an opportunity of earning a ticket to March Madness is 20 wins. It will take tremendous work for the Red Storm to make their resume resemble a typical March Madness team.
They will most likely have to win at least four of their final seven regular season games. They would also have to win at least one Conference tournament game to solidify a March Madness appearance.
This is not the first time Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin and his team have been a borderline March Madness team.
In Lavin’s first season with the Red Storm, 2010-2011, they had a 15-9 record on Feb. 13. They had defeated four ranked teams that season, but they were considered a borderline March Madness team.
They won six of their last eight games to propel them to an at-large March Madness selection. This included two victories against ranked opponents.
The current Red Storm team does not have as impressive of a resume as the 2010-2011 team had. Their strength of schedule this season could help them sneak into the March Madness field, if they win.
Lunardi listed them as one of the first teams to not make the March Madness Field. History has shown that the experts are not always correct.
There are at least seven games remaining in the Red Storm’s season. If the Red Storm can string together an impressive regular season finish and conference tournament run, then they might earn a spot in the March Madness field.