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college basketball

Checking In on St. John’s NCAA Tournament Chances

It is only 40 days until Selection Sunday. That's soon, right? Forty days is the time span between the Jets' 45–3 loss to the Patriots and their AFC Divisional round win over them. That went by like nothing. It'll be 40 days before anyone knows it. The St. John's Red Storm, fresh off their biggest win in nearly a decade, a thrashing of Duke over the weekend, will know if they made the tournament in 40 days. A lot is gonna change between now and then. Are they gonna make it?

As of today, which is of course right after the huge Duke win, the Red Storm are universally considered in. Joe Lunardi at ESPN's Bracketology has them as a No. 9 seed, playing Temple in Cleveland. Andy Glockner at SI.com has them as a No. 8 seed, playing Old Dominion, also in Cleveland. Rush the Court: No. 9, versus Missouri State. Yahoo: No. 10, versus North Carolina, which would be fun.

But that's now. The Big East schedule does not get much easier, and it shouldn't, considering all those prognosticators have eleven Big East teams making the tournament. (That's every team but Seton Hall, Rutgers, Providence, South Florida, and DePaul. That's crazy.) But St. John's only has four games left against those six teams. If they win all four of those, and lose to everybody else (including UCLA), they'll be 18–12 overall, 9–9 in the conference. That will surely get them in.

What if they lose one of those four, though? Ken Pomeroy thinks they will, falling to Seton Hall on the road on March 3. That's 17–13, 8–10 in the conference, with losses to Fordham and St. Bonaventure still looking nasty on the résumé. Is that enough? Can a team losing seven of their last ten, with a potential Big East tourney loss, really sneak in? That Seton Hall game may make all the difference. If the Red Storm can't pull off an upset against the top-tier teams, and lose that one, they're not in, we think. It's not certain yet. But they're on the good side of the bubble, at this point. Beating Duke will do that. Beating Duke will do a lot of things.

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Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images