College football ‘bowled’ over

Philip Consuegra

It’s scary to think a game can be labeled a ‘must-win’ only halfway through the season, but if the ‘Cats are to make the tourney this year, then the next two games against St. John’s and Providence are exactly that: must-wins. After ‘Nova stopped its three-game losing streak with a huge win against Boston College on the road, the ‘Cats improved to 9-5 overall and 1-1 in the Big East.

St. John’s: The Red Storm (4-9, 0-3 in the Big East) has been a disappointment this year, posting the only under .500 record in the Big East. Last year’s NIT Champions, struggled to begin the season, losing to Fairfield, Hofstra the national powerhouses Duke and Georgia Tech. The early season lull by the team resulted in the firing of head coach Mike Jarvis, who had become a staple on the sidelines for the Storm, heading into his sixth season. Another tragedy hit St. John’s when Willie Shaw was kicked off the team this year for his second drug charge. Shaw had become a regular in the St. John’s lineup at the end of last year and was going to be counted on heavily this year to put up some points.

St. John’s is led by the 6-foot guard Elijah Ingram, who is average 13 points per game, and forward Grady Reynolds, who provides a powerful presence inside for the Storm, averaging 12.4 points per game and grabbing 6.6 boards.

Prediction: With a roster that does not possess a lot of depth, the ‘Cats should be looking at an easy victory, however, nothing is for sure when two Big East schools play each other. Villanova 68 St. John’s 54

Providence: The Friars (9-3, 1-1 in the Big East) have been one of the more surprising teams this year in the Big East. Wins over Alabama (8-4), Illinois (10-3) and Virginia (10-3) have vaulted this team into the national spotlight. And after a tough loss against Texas that came down to a buzzer-beater, no one is taking this Providence team lightly. The Friars main threat is Ryan Gomes. The lanky 6-foot-7-inch junior has posted numbers that are worthy of Big East first team, averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game. When the Friars need a big bucket the ball will always end up in Gomes’ hands. Sophomore point guard Donnie McGrath runs Providence’s offense. The 6-foot-4-inch guard averages 10 points and four assists per game and is one of the rising stars of the Big East.

Providence will be without forward Rob Sanders, who suffered two broken fingers in the Friars win over Virginia. Sanders is second on the team averaging 13 points per game and at 6 feet 6 inches is versatile enough to go inside and grab boards, but quick enough to play the two guard.

Prediction: Providence possesses a pretty good home-court advantage, playing in the Dunkin Donuts Center, one of the more intimidating arenas in the Big East. However, ‘Nova is used to playing in intimidating buildings (remember Kansas?). And even though they lost they stuck with the Jayhawks, and the Friars are not Kansas. Villanova 67 Providence 62