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2019 NCAA tournament preview: St. John's

St. John's Red Storm: 21-12, 8-10 in the Big East Conference

Head coach: Chris Mullin (4th season)

Players to watch: Shamorie Ponds (19.5 PPG, 5.2 APG, 2.6 SPG); Mustapha Heron (14.9 PPG, 42.1 3PT%); LJ Figueroa (14.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG)

Season recap: Despite ranking outside the top 70 according to both and NET rankings, St. John's will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2015.

The Red Storm began the season on a torrid streak and entered conference play with a perfect 12-0 record. However, their success came against subpar opponents, and just one of these dozen wins came against a team that made the Big Dance.

St. John's quickly ran out of luck and dropped 12 of its final 21 contests, including a pair of losses to lowly DePaul. What got the Red Storm off the bubble was its wins against the other three Big East teams that made the NCAA tournament: Marquette, Villanova and Seton Hall.

How they make a run: Shamorie Ponds has proven he can score on the big stage, evidenced by his 33-point effort against Duke in St. John's 2018 upset. If Ponds can take over the game and the Red Storm can force turnovers at a solid clip—they rank No. 11 nationally in steals—St. John's has a chance to advance to its first Sweet 16 since 1999.

How they falter: The Red Storm prove that there's a reason it was a surprise when their name was called on Selection Sunday, and exits quietly against Arizona State in the First Four.


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