Big East Tournament: Pittsburgh vs. St. John’s Free Pick/Preview
NCAA Basketball Spread: Pittsburgh -5.5
Madison Square Garden will host the Big East Tournament starting Tuesday afternoon. The Big East Tournament has been one of the best moments of the college basketball season for many years, but it won’t look the same after this season. College football is ruling the landscape and several of the main players in the East, including Pittsburgh, are leaving for another conference. Jamie Dixon’s team has had a very disappointing season, but they’ll look to get on a run in the Big East Tournament. St. John’s has been playing their home games at MSG, so they should feel at home here.
Pittsburgh is used to getting double bye in the Big East Tournament, but this year the Panthers are playing on day one. It certainly hasn’t been the season many envisioned for this team. Early season losses to Long Beach State and Wagner at home were definitely signs that something was wrong with this squad. Pittsburgh finished 5-13 in the Big East Conference, and only an automatic bid will get them in the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh is usually known as a great defensive team, but that hasn’t been the case this year. The Panthers allow opponents to shoot 45% from the floor.
Ashton Gibbs hasn’t been the player many thought he would be this year. He leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, but he is shooting just 39% from the floor. Rebounding is a strength of this team once again this year, but they really don’t have a low post scorer. Pittsburgh only averages 69.1 points per game this season.
St. John’s had its best recruiting class in years and hopes were high for this team, but there were tons of bumps in the road. Steve Lavin has had health problems that have kept him off the sidelines most of the year, and this young team has struggled with inconsistency. St. John’s did win three of their last five games, including wins over UCLA and Notre Dame. This young team has tons of potential, and they will likely be dangerous over the next couple years.
Freshman D’Angelo Harrison leads the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game, but he shoots just 38% from the floor. Still, Harrison has improved quite a bit as this season has moved along. Freshman Maurice Harkless averages 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. God’sgift Achiuwa is another freshman who showed flashes of brilliance this year, and when he plays well the Red Storm are tough to beat. St. John’s has struggled on the defensive boards all year, and they will have to be much better in this one or Pitt will dominate them in the interior.
Pittsburgh won 89-69 in the only regular season meeting between these two. St. John’s should be much better in this one, but I think Pittsburgh wins and covers because of their big edge on the glass.
Free College Basketball Pick: Pittsburgh -5.5