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st. john's red storm

St. John’s Has GOTTA Be in the Tournament Now, Right?

Coming into yesterday, the major arguments against St. John's making the NCAA Tournament were: (a) their iffy overall record; (b) losses to Fordham — yah! — and St. Bonaventure; and (c) the fact that they might be swept by Cincinnati, the team they're competing with for an at-large bid in the Big East. It's difficult to make a case against them today, though.

Yesterday, St. John's edged past Cincinnati on the road, sending the Bearcats reeling and fighting with each other. It raised St. John's record to 15–9, 7–5 in the conference, and raised their RPI all the way up to No. 17. It's looking very good now.

The bracket projections won't be out until later today and tomorrow, but St. John's had a terrific week, smashing Connecticut and then beating the Bearcats on the road. The general consensus was that, with their impressive wins over Duke, Connecticut, Georgetown, and Notre Dame, the Johnnies would need only to finish .500 in the Big East to secure a tournament bid. (And they might not even have to do that.) Now, with the wins this week, Ken Pomeroy, whose numbers have been skeptical of St. John's all season, has them finishing 10–8 in the conference, more than enough to sneak them in, maybe even with a seed as high as seventh or eighth.

Also: St. John's is tied for eighth in the conference, which is ahead of Syracuse. If they can stay in the top eight, they'll actually get a bye on the first day of the Big East tournament, the first time that has happened since 2002. Which, not coincidentally, is the last time they made the NCAA Tournament. Looks like it's happening, people. Get excited.

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Photo: Al Behrman/AP