St. John’s Red Storm at Seton Hall Pirates, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Thursday, March 3, 2011, 7 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: St. John’s -3
Current Line: St. John’s -3
Opening Total: 128
Current Total: 130
Money Line: St. John’s -150 / Seton Hall +130
The 15th-ranked St. John’s Red Storm (19-9, 11-5) are one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of six straight games overall and seven in a row in conference play. After beating six Top 25 opponents this season, the Red Storm (-3) can clinch a double bye in the Big East tournament with wins in their final two games, starting with this road matchup against the Seton Hall Pirates (11-17, 5-11) on Thursday.
St. John’s has been riding senior Dwight Hardy down the stretch, as he is averaging over 25 points in the last nine games. The Red Storm are 8-1 straight-up in those games, going 7-2 against the spread, including six straight covers. Hardy scored a career-high 34 points in an 81-68 victory at Villanova last Saturday to state his case for Big East Player of the Year honors.
Few can argue that Hardy is not deserving of the award at this point, but he will need to help his team finish the regular season strong against two opponents St. John’s should beat. However, the Red Storm have not won a game at Seton Hall in 13 years, dropping six straight there. The Pirates have also won seven of the last 10 meetings overall, going 6-4 ATS.
Seton Hall is riding a three-game losing streak and has also dropped five of six since posting consecutive wins against Syracuse and Providence. A 69-64 road win at Rutgers on February 12 is the team’s only victory since January, and the UNDER is 6-0-1 in the past seven games.
The Pirates have lost their last two games on the road at Marquette (73-64) and Notre Dame (60-48) after falling at home to Villanova and Connecticut by a combined five points. Leading scorer Jeremy Hazell totaled 14 points against the Fighting Irish in their latest game last Saturday while Jeff Robinson led the way with 16. Seton Hall had no answer for Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough, who combined to make six 3-pointers en route to 43 points between them.
Seton Hall has played fairly well defensively despite the skid, surrendering more than 64 points just once in the last six games. The UNDER is a remarkable 11-1 in the last 12 home games for the Pirates and 8-3 in the last 11 meetings. St. John’s has found a way to win high-scoring games and low-scoring affairs, which is reflected in a perfect 4-4 split on totals in the team’s last eight games. The Red Storm have given up more than 68 points only once over that period.
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