St. John’s is still celebrating its upset win over No. 12 Creighton on Monday, which also happened to be head coach Steve Lavin’s 200th career win. The betting public has quickly become enamored with St. John’s in light of the fact that the Red Storm have won (and covered) six of their last seven games, including decisive wins over Butler (69-52), Marquette (74-59) and Providence (86-76). But, the public’s knee-jerk reaction in favor of the road favorite is a mistake as St. John’s falls into a very negative 14-43-2 ATS road letdown situation of mine that is predicated upon its upset win over the Blue Jays. In contrast, Seton Hall falls into a very good 23-2-1 ATS contrarian angle of mine that invests on certain home teams off two or more consecutive losses, provided they are matched up against an opponent off two or more consecutive wins, provided the last win came as an underdog.
From a fundamental standpoint, St. John’s is averaging 73.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.7 points per game, thereby making the Red Storm 4.4 points per game better than average offensively this season. However, the Red Storm will have a difficult time penetrating a Seton Hall defense that is limiting opponents to just 68.0 points over its last five games. Overall, Seton Hall is 2.3 points per game better than average defensively (71.0 points per game to teams that would combine to average 73.3 points per game), which is good enough to limit the Red Storm’s attack. The teams are actually evenly-matched when Seton Hall has possession as the Pirates are 3.3 points per game better than average offensively (74.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 70.8 points per game), while the Red Storm are 5.4 points per game better than average defensively (67.1 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.5 points per game).
Interestingly, Seton Hall shot 53.3% (24-of-45) from the field in its loss to Marquette Tuesday, which is not surprising as the Pirates lead the Big East Conference with a .400 (92-230) three-point field goal percentage (8.4 three-pointers per game in conference play). The Pirates are making 47.6% of their field goal attempts at home, while limiting opponents to a mere 42.9% from the floor. From a technical standpoint, Seton Hall has won eight-straight games in this series at home dating back to the 1997-1998 season, and I expect the Pirates to secure win #9 tonight against a St. John’s squad caught squarely in a letdown/look-ahead situation. As indicated above, St. John’s is coming off an emotional upset win over Creighton in which coach Lavin got his 200th career win, and the Red Storm have a huge revenge game on deck against Georgetown. Sunday’s home game against the Hoyas has taken on even greater significance after St. John’s was humiliated 77-60 last month. Meanwhile, Seton Hall has not forgotten its heart-breaking 77-76 loss to St. John’s a few weeks ago, and I expect a huge effort from coach Kevin Willard’s squad tonight.