Big East Tournament Quarterfinals
#5 St. John’s Red Storm vs. #4 Syracuse Orange, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Thursday, March 10, 2011, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Syracuse -2.5
Current Line: Syracuse -2
Opening Total: 135
Current Total: 135.5
Money Line: Syracuse -140 / St. John’s +120
The fifth-seeded St. John’s Red Storm (21-10) barely survived Wednesday’s second-round matchup with Rutgers despite a controversial ending, giving the crowd at Madison Square Garden the dream quarterfinal matchup most of them wanted to see in the Big East tournament on Thursday. The Red Storm advanced with a 65-63 win over the Scarlet Knights and will meet the fourth-seeded Syracuse Orange (25-6), who have also made the Garden their home away from home over the years.
Rutgers almost prevented that scenario from happening, but a poorly officiated ending allowed St. John’s to escape. Red Storm senior Justin Brownlee had intercepted a pass by the Scarlet Knights near midcourt with less than five seconds remaining in the game, but he clearly traveled and ran out of bounds before time expired. The referees did not see that there was still time left on the clock when Brownlee began celebrating the victory and ran off the court with a review.
Regardless, St. John’s improved to 8-1 at MSG with the only loss coming to Syracuse (-2) back on January 12, 76-59. However, at that point the Orange were near the end of an 18-game winning streak to start the season and faced a much different Red Storm team than they will see in the tournament. St. John’s has beaten six ranked opponents at the Garden and finished the regular season by winning nine of 11 games overall, including six straight at home.
Leading scorer Dwight Hardy was also a much different player for St. John’s in the last meeting with Syracuse, as he totaled just 12 points and turned the ball over four times. Times have certainly changed since then. Hardy has scored 14 points or more in the last 12 games, averaging more than 23 points during that stretch including Wednesday’s win against Rutgers.
Two games after beating the Red Storm, the Orange went into a slump that saw them lose four games in a row and six of eight. However, they rebounded nicely and enter the Big East tournament on a five-game winning streak that included road wins at Georgetown and Villanova.
In addition, Syracuse has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with St. John’s, covering the spread in the past three after the Red Storm had beaten the line in the previous three, all of which were decided by six points or less. The last three meetings have not been nearly as close though with the Orange winning by an average of nearly 22 points. The OVER has cashed in the last two meetings along with the past four games overall for St. John’s.
Now that you have read this Big East tournament betting preview featuring Syracuse & St. John’s, check out the NCAA basketball odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.