Friday, January 26, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: St. John's @ Pittsburgh

January 27, 2007

The St. John's Redstorm had quite a week with wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden. Now they look to take their run on the road by travelling to Pittsburgh to meet the 1st place Panthers.

Pitt rebounded from their first conference loss against Marquette last Sunday by turning back Cincinnati, 67-51, as the Panthers showed off their conference leading touch from beyond the arc.

St. John's has had some recent success against Pittsburgh, beating Pitt at home the last two seasons. The Redstorm can be a difficult match-up for the Panthers as they are a team that has some solid athletes and do not mind playing a low-scoring game. St. John's can be physical on the perimeter, but they do not have the same depth inside as Pittsburgh.

In the past, St. John's also had very good success when zoning the Panthers and watching them shoot blanks from the perimeter. This year's Pitt team moves the ball extremely well and shoots the ball better than anyone in the conference from beyond the arc. They will need that shooting touch in this game to hold off the pesky 'Storm.

St. John's will look to use Lamaont Hamilton to take Aaron Gray away from the basket. Hamilton is comfortable in facing the basket and his play last year was the difference in the game as SJU held off a Panther rally to win at Madison Square Garden. Like Pitt, the SJU guards are not the quickest of foot, but Pitt will have to make sure Avery Patterson and Larry Wright do not get hot from the perimeter, because when they do, St. John's will be very dangerous.

I expect this game to be closer than many predict as St. John's is playing with some added confidence. However, this Pittsburgh team spends less time watching someone dribble and more time moving the ball and finding the open man and making shots. As long as they make shots, they will win this game.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Pittsburgh 71 St. John's 62


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