Empire Classic Championship Odds, Picks | Betting Guide for Syracuse vs. St. John’s
Porter Binks/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Soriano (11) of St. John’s Red Storm basketball team.
Syracuse vs. St. John's Odds
The 2022 Empire Classic delivered two of yesterday's most exciting college basketball games, and I fully expect that trend to continue for Tuesday's Championship bout.
The Syracuse Orange (3-1) squared off with Richmond in a thriller that featured 16 lead changes. But in the end, the Orange outlasted the Spiders and won by 3 in overtime.
Meanwhile, the St. John's Red Storm (5-0) fought down to the wire against the Temple Owls. St. John's closed the game on an 8-0 run to make its way to Tuesday's Empire Classic Championship.
St. John’s has five-star talent on the roster, including Joel Soriano and Andre Curbelo; will they do enough to overcome the 'Cuse?
The Orange leaned on their defense at the end of the game to pull ahead, then secure the win over Richmond. But, don't let Syracuse's strong defensive showing at the end overshadow the outstanding offensive performance from Joe Girard.
Girard put up a career-high 31 points against Richmond, 21 of which came in the first half. Again, it cannot be overstated how big the team's defense came up in this game; Syracuse allowed just one point in the final six minutes of regulation.
One of the biggest factors that enabled Richmond to keep the game close was its ability to defend at the perimeter. Richmond ranks 26nd in 3-point defense, limiting opponents to an average of 24.8% from beyond the arc.
The Orange face another tough test against the Red Storm. St. John's is not quite as exceptional as Richmond at defending against the 3, but it is no slouch either: The Red Storm has held opponents to 30.3% from deep this season.
However, St. John's does bring one crucial element that makes it an entirely different matchup for Syracuse: Pace. St John's is one of the fastest teams in the country, ranking third in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom.
Th Red Storm defense may give the Orange fits, but the increase in possessions could be huge for Syracuse.
St John's moves at a blistering pace and has scored nearly at will. The Red Storm has averaged almost 84 points per game — a big reason why the team enters Tuesday's championship game undefeated at 5-0.
If St. John's can maintain that pace against Syracuse, we may see an offensive clinic on both sides.
However, it could become severely one-sided if the Orange struggle on the glass again. Richmond came down with 44 rebounds against Syracuse, who had just 27. Meanwhile, St John's averages 41.4 rebounds per game and limits opponents to 32.0.
The Red Storm are a physical team on defense and dominate the paint at both ends of the floor. St John's ranks in the 90th percentile of Division-I teams in field goal percentage in the paint; it also stifles opponents to 50.3% on 2-point attempts.
If the Red Storm win on the glass and in the paint, then they win this game — regardless of whether or not the Orange get hot from 3-point range.
Syracuse vs. St. John's Betting Pick
Syracuse is a good team, but its rebounding struggles against Richmond are concerning. That deficiency may be exaggerated against St. John's.
Expect the Red Storm's physicality and scoring ability in the paint to be the deciding factors in this game.
I'll be backing the Red Storm as high as a 4-point favorite to win the Empire Classic and move to 6-0 on the season.
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