It might sound a little weird, but there’s a lot riding on Saturday’s contest against St. John’s.
You can look at St. John’s not great record on the season and think that’s not the case, but in fact, that’s actually why this is kind of a big deal. First off, Marquette currently sits in fourth place in the Big East at 1-1. Denver, Providence, and Villanova are all at 1-0 on the season in league play, and as you’ll recall, the Wildcats already hold the tiebreaker on the Golden Eagles. A win over St. John’s would keep Marquette alive for that fourth and final Big East tournament slot as well as create somewhat of a divide in the standings, at least between MU and 0-2 Georgetown and (in theory) 0-2 St. John’s.
It’s also a pretty important game in terms of Marquette’s NCAA tournament outlook. As of right now, the Golden Eagles fall into the “not under consideration” portion of Inside Lacrosse’s bracketology, and MU doesn’t make it into US Lacrosse’s first three out, either. That’s fine, mostly. Here’s the deal: Marquette still has a road game against Notre Dame on the schedule, as well as home games against Duke and Denver. Their slim NCAA tournament chances ride on getting wins in at least one, probably two of those games. The catch is, though, that they can not afford to lose a home game to a team that is clearly struggling this season like St. John’s.
Ryan McNamara Watch: The senior from Minnesota enters Saturday’s game with 135 career points. He’s now five points shy of Conor Gately’s program record of 140, and five points in a game is easily possible for the All-American attackman.
Big East Game #3: vs St. John’s Red Storm (1-9, 0-1 Big East)
When: Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 1pm Central
Where: Valley Fields, in the soccer stadium
Audio/Visual: The game will be on television locally on Spectrum Sports. Spectrum customers should be able to stream the game as well. Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: 1st 200 students get FREE PIZZA, and everyone in attendance will be entered in a raffle with prizes including an Apple Watch & Beats by Dre headphones.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
Marquette is 3-1 all time against St. John’s, with wins in the last three games. This will be just the second time that the Red Storm have come to Wisconsin for a game.
St. John’s is a weird team, man. I know that the cliche in combat sports is “styles make fights,” meaning that the fight can be good or bad depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the two fighters. That definitely seems to apply to the Red Storm’s season. They have a 9-8 loss to then-#6 Syracuse and a 9-6 loss to then-#5 Hofstra on their record, which is nothing to be worried about. They also lost 15-6 to High Point, 15-6 to Providence, and, in their most recent outing, lost 23-7 to #17 Yale. The Elis led 14-1 at halftime of that one.
If you thought Marquette wasn’t scoring a bunch of goals this season, well, let me introduce you to the St. John’s offense. The Golden Eagles methodical nature has led them to average 9.25 goals this season, while the Red Storm are managing just 7.1 per contest. Part of their problem is that they commit the most turnovers in the Big East, giving it away more than 14 times per game. They’re also not particularly great at shooting, scoring on just 23% of their swings, which is again the worst mark in the conference.
From an individual standpoint, St. John’s is hard to defend, though. They’ve got six guys with at least 10 points on the season, but no one has more than 14. Nick Heller leads in goals with 10, and Scott Scannell, one of the two guys with 14 points, has the time high in assists with nine. Part of the individual stats are thrown off a bit by Jason DeBenedictis missing four games this season. The junior from Holbrook, NY, is averaging a goal and an assist per game in his six appearances this season, but that’s partly due to recording a hat trick against Yale.
Daniel Costa is going to stand out there and take a beating in net for St. John’s. In 10 games this season, he’s allowed 126 goals (12.92/60 minutes) and made 102 saves (10.2/game). He’s stopping 45% of shots on frame, though, which gives him a slightly better save percentage than Villanova’s Nick Testa, and we already know that Marquette had a little trouble scoring on him late in that game last week.