The No. 11 and fourth-seeded Orange will play No. 17 and fifth-seeded Red Storm in the quarterfinals of the Big East championship. St. John’s has making its first quarterfinals appearance since 2003.
How they got there: St. John’s defeated Rutgers 65-63 on Wednesday, but it was a controversial ending to the game. With 4.9 seconds left and St. John’s up by two, Justin Brownlee intercepted an inbounds pass. Brownlee then appeared to travel with the ball and step out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left on the clock before throwing the ball into the stands. No call was made, and St. John’s hung on for its eighth win in its past nine games.
Meanwhile, Syracuse will play its first game in the Big East tournament after receiving a double-bye. But that certainly doesn’t ensure an easy route to the Big East championship. Last year, the Orange was the No. 1 seed after a 28-3 regular season, but was outsed by Georgetown in its opening game, 91-84, in the quarterfinals.
Quote to note: “I just let my emotions get to me. I was just trying to throw it up so the time would expire. Unfortunately I threw it too early. Fortunately time did expire and we came up with the win.” – Brownlee to reporters after the second round game with Rutgers.
Whom to watch for: The Red Storm is led by All Big East first team selection Dwight Hardy. He is the Red Storm’s leading scorer at 17.9 points per game. Forward Justin Brownlee is also a threat to score, averaging 12.1 ppg.
The last time these two teams met: Syracuse handed St. John’s its only defeat at Madison Square Garden this season, as Syracuse cruised to a 76-59 victory on Jan. 12. Kris Joseph scored 15 points, and Rick Jackson added 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Orange. SU’s defense was at its best, holding the Red Storm to 36.8 percent.
Historically speaking: All time, Syracuse is 47-37 against St. John’s and 89-78 overall in Madison Square Garden. In recent years, the Orange has had the upper hand in this matchup, winning 11 of the last 12 games. But the Orange is facing a St. John’s team with a different kind of swagger. Since Jan. 12, the Red Storm has reeled off an impressive string of victories at the Garden, including wins against Duke, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Villanova.