College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Providence vs. St. John’s (Tuesday, February 1)
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Posh Alexander (St. John’s)
- Big East-leading Providence is a 2.5-point underdog on the road against a middle-of-the-Big-East team in St. John's.
- The Friars have had some luck and aren't as good as their record indicates, according to Anthony Dabbundo.
- Dabbundo breaks down this matchup and explains why he's backing the Red Storm at home.
Providence vs. St. John’s Odds
-114o / -106u
|St. John’s Odds|
-114o / -106u
Another game, another nail-bitting win for Providence on Sunday, as the Friars won at home against Marquette, 65-63, after the Golden Eagles missed a game-tying shot at the buzzer.
The Friars now head on the road to St. John’s to take on the Red Storm Tuesday night.
Providence has won five straight games in the Big East and eight of nine overall, but the Friars have been quite fortunate to have the record that they do.
Close wins, opponent injuries and COVID absences, and shooting variance have all heavily swung in favor of the Friars, who aren’t nearly as good as their lofty 18-2 record indicates.
St. John’s lost by 10 earlier this year in Providence and has been up-and-down in the conference. However, it was competitive and led by as many as seven on the road before a late collapse saw the Friars win the game.
Providence has an excellent half-court defense, but there’s some holes in transition that the Red Storm can exploit and win this game at home in an excellent spot following a non-competitive loss at Villanova.
There’s been a constant battle between the pundits and the betting market on the Friars all season — myself included.
This is a team I thought was underrated in the market when it won at Wisconsin and beat Texas Tech, but the narrative surrounding Providence has swung way too far in the opposite direction.
The Friars are a top-15 team in the AP Top 25 poll despite being outside the top 30 in most public predictive metrics. They aren’t getting much respect as an eight-point road dog to Xavier last week, or three-point road underdog in this spot.
Providence is 7-0 in close games this year, with tight wins coming down to the final possession in each of the last two games. That adds to all of the variance in late games that has swung its way this season.
You could make an argument that the Friars’ very experienced team should be better in close games than average, but 7-0 isn’t sustainable at all.
Another reason to fade the Friars: ShotQuality. No team in the country has a bigger differential between their actual record and their ShotQuality record.
SQ has them at 11-8, while the Friars enter Tuesday night at 17-2. Those six games have been mostly the tight games that the Friars have pulled out late via a comeback or a last-second shot.
The predictive metrics don’t like Providence much and even that is a bit inflated because of opponent bad luck with injuries.
The Friars played UConn without Adama Sanogo, Seton Hall without Tyrese Samuel and Ike Obiagu, and Wisconsin without Johnny Davis.
You can’t blame Providence for this — it still deserves credit for winning those games — but you wonder if it means the Friars are a bit overrated because of those past wins looking better in retrospect.
St. John’s has some matchup advantages that it can exploit in transition in this game. The Red Storm go up-tempo, play at the fourth-fastest pace in the nation and generate much better looks, per ShotQuality, when playing in transition.
Providence’s defense is 61st in half-court defensive SQ, but that number drops outside the top-150 defensively when you force it to defend in transition.
And for as much as the St. John’s defense has struggled when you look at its top line points per possession allowed, a lot of that has come because teams have made a ton of 3-point looks against it.
St. John’s has major defensive rebounding issues, but its half-court and transition defensive ranks are both inside the top-35 nationally. The Red Storm guard the mid-range really well and are solid against post-ups, two areas that the Friars like to live.
Most importantly, St. John’s defense in conference play has allowed 39.2% from 3, which is unsustainable. The Red Storm don’t really allow a ton of great looks from deep, but teams have been making everything against them, and that’s not going to continue.
Providence vs. St. John’s Betting Pick
You’re probably wondering why the leader of the Big East is a road underdog by three points against a middling St. John’s team in February. The market has not really bought into the hype on Providence, and I’m not either.
KenPom, BartTorvik and ShotQuality luck and fortune metrics all suggest that no team has been more fortunate than the Friars this season, and there’s major regression coming for Cooley’s squad.
This is an all-in spot for the Red Storm, who have advantages in transition and can exploit the Friars before their defense can get set.
I wouldn’t lay more than one possession in this game, and I do get concerned about the Red Storm’s issues from the free throw line in a tight game late. But St. John’s has been unlucky defensively from 3 and there’s no way Providence can sustain this level of close game luck.
Throw in revenge from the late collapse the Red Storm had in Providence at the beginning of conference play, and St. John’s should be all-in to take down the conference leader.
Pick: St. John’s -3 or better
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