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Preview: Georgetown vs St. John’s

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Game 29: Georgetown Hoyas (14-14, 5-10) vs St. John’s Red Storm (12-16, 6-9)

Series: St. John’s leads 55-51

Where/When: Madison Square Garden, Saturday noon

TV: Fox Regional Networks (MASN2 in DC)

KenPom: St. John’s 79-78, 51 percent

Line: St. John’s -1

Fresh of its first ever regular season conference loss to DePaul, life goes on for the Hoyas who travel to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to play longtime rivals St. John’s.

Georgetown, which blasted St. John’s 83-55 earlier this season, has entered the ‘playing for pride’ portion of its schedule. You never want to be in playing for just pride mode but here we are just the same.

After Georgetown suffered its first losing season since 1973, coach John Thompson III shook things up a bit in the off-season both on his staff and on his roster. Two new assistant coaches were brought in to go along with the homecoming of Hoya great Jonathan Wallace as a special assistant. JT3 also welcomed in the school’s first graduate transfer in Rodney Pryor to go along with the school’s first junior college transfer since 1999 in Jonathan Mulmore. All of this reshuffling has the Hoyas right back in the exact same spot as they were in last season through 28 games, which is a very mediocre 14-14.

In one of the more puzzling stat lines of the season, LJ Peak played 36 minutes and only put up six points on six shots on Wednesday night. As the minutes show you, the junior guard wasn’t in any sort of foul trouble. Peak only shot two free throws as Dave Leitao admitted post game to focusing on stopping Peak. The Hoyas will need him to be more like he was in their last meeting with St. John’s when he went to line ten times. He made all ten in case you were wondering.

Probably lost in translation during the DePaul loss was the fact that Marcus Derrickson hit double figures for the first time in eleven games despite playing just 15 minutes while being in foul trouble.

Speaking of foul trouble, Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 18 points against DePaul but sat for what seemed like forever in the second half after picking up his fourth foul. That didn’t help.

In the last meeting St. John’s was dreadful from 3-point range (5-30) and lost the battle on the boards by twenty (50-30). Honestly, it was one of those games where nothing went right and the box score backs that up. In fact after the game as assistant coach Mitch Richmond was walking over to the radio guys he was just shaking his head in complete disapproval.

Marcus LoVett, Shamorie Ponds, and Bashir Ahmed all hit double figures in that 28 point loss by no one shot well as the Red Storm were just 27 percent from the field as a team while posting more than twice as many turnovers (16) as assists (7).

JT3 needs to win two of his final three games just to match his worst conference record of 7-11. The Hoyas have been 7-11 twice under JT3 - last year and in 2009.

With a win Georgetown can draw to within three games of St. John’s in their all time series for the first time since 1931 when it was just 8-5 in favor of the then Redmen.

BET Seeding: Hoyas could move into 8th place today with a win. It seems as though the only thing that might change for Georgetown in terms of the BIG EAST Tournament is whether they go with the home or away jerseys in the 8/9 game on First Round Wednesday.

NCAA: All that’s left for the Hoyas in terms of getting back to the Big Dance is the league’s automatic berth which will be given out in two weeks in the same building as Saturday’s game.

Non-Losing Season: The Hoyas have to 2-1 the rest of the way to avoid a second straight losing season. As it turns out, the NIT - back in 2006 - changed its rules to allow for the selection of teams under .500 for its postseason tournament. As if the NIT didn’t have a big enough ‘meh’ feeling on its own, imagine making it with a losing record. No thanks.

Reason to be cynical: Well for starters, as if you somehow forgot, Georgetown just lost to DePaul. And if that wasn’t bad enough for the second time this season an opposing player basically questioned Georgetown’s heart.

Reason to be delusional: Well I suppose if you get up early enough and have yourself a nice Kegs ‘n’ Eggs start to the day, the sky’s the limit. Also, it might take an entire keg to get there at this point although I’m not suggesting such an activity.

Prediction: Georgetown 72, St. John’s 60

I’m going to assume that the team hasn’t give up just yet. If that’s true, they win this one with room to spare.