college basketball

NCAAB Tournament Game Preview: #11 St. John's vs. #11 Arizona State

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March 20th, 2019

St. John’s Red Storm (21-12) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (22-10) Game time: Wednesday, March 20, 9:10 p.m. ET Location: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio Where to watch: truTV Spread: Arizona State -1.5

Arizona State is back in the First Four once again after losing to Syracuse 60-56 in the play-in game last year. The No. 11 Sun Devils head into Wednesday night’s game as slight favorites over eleventh-seeded St. John’s.

The Sun Devils made it as far as their conference tournament semifinal, where they lost to eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon 79-75. The Ducks and Pac-12 member Washington also earned a spot in this year’s field of 68.

St. John’s landed in the NCAA tournament as the very last team selected by the committee. The Red Storm earned a berth despite losing five of their last eight games, including an 86-54 loss to Marquette in the Big East quarterfinal. St. John’s did, however, beat Marquette twice in the regular season, handing the Golden Eagles a 20-point defeat on Jan. 1 and edging them out by a single point on Feb. 5.

The Red Storm round out a four-team Big East showing in the NCAA tournament. Marquette is a fifth seed, Villanova a sixth and Seton Hall a 10th. Under fourth-year coach Chris Mullin, who reached the Final Four with St. John’s as a player in 1985, the Red Storm are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall. The Sun Devils, by contrast, are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a straight-up loss, but they’re 1-4-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games.

Still, Arizona State is peaking at the right time. The team won six of its last eight games and beat Kansas in December when the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Sun Devils’ head coach also makes for a potential intriguing storyline should Arizona State win its play-in game. Aside from having won two NCAA titles while playing at Duke, Bobby Hurley also previously coached at Buffalo, the team awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s game. Hurley accomplished a 42-20 record with the Bulls before taking over at Arizona State in 2015.

The Play

Look for Arizona State’s size and rebounding prowess to overpower St. John’s in the matchup. The Sun Devils will easily cover the -1.5 spread.

Wednesday night’s first play-in game features No. 16 NC Central vs. No. 16 North Dakota State at 6:40 p.m. on truTV.

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