NCAAB Odds, Picks for St. John’s vs North Texas
Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniss Jenkins (St. John’s)
St. John's vs North Texas Odds, Pick
The 2023 Charleston Classic kicks off with a marquee matinee matchup. St. John’s, the media darling of the offseason, takes on North Texas, the reigning NIT champion.
The Johnnies made headlines by hiring Rick Pitino this summer in an effort to revive their storied program. Through the early going, it’s been a mixed bag. St. John’s dropped a head-scratching game to a non-D-I opponent in an exhibition and then was properly exposed at home by Michigan on Monday.
North Texas picked up right where it left off. Despite a change in head coach – Ross Hodge took over for current Texas Tech headman Grant McCasland – the Mean Green look as mean as ever. An impressive overtime victory against UNI set the tone for the non-conference.
A clash of styles awaits us. Let’s dig in with St. John's vs North Texas odds and a pick, including a college basketball betting guide for Thursday, Nov. 16.
In general, Pitino wants his team to get out in transition and attack in the open floor, but through two games this season, its overwhelming strength has been the offensive glass. The Johnnies have grabbed a ridiculous 53.6% of their misses this season, the best mark in the country by a comfortable margin.
The Red Storm frontline — led by Joel Soriano — is big, mean and physical.
Guard play is also a strength, as it appears Pitino’s mid-major up-transfers are ready for the big stage. Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins and Penn transfer Jordan Dingle have been impressive through two contests, though the former has been a tad erratic with the ball at times.
The issues have come defensively, as even Stony Brook was able to notch 1.09 points per possession against the Red Storm. Pitino’s press has yet to bother opposing ball handlers – the Johnnies rank in just the 30th percentile nationally in points per possession allowed when pressing (Synergy).
While Nimari Burnett was unconscious for Michigan, the Wolverines still found plenty of easy looks and had a plethora of second-chance opportunities. For how good the Red Storm have been on the offensive glass, they’ve been nearly as bad on the other end, ranking just 327th nationally in defensive rebounding rate.
North Texas isn’t exactly known for its offense, but the Mean Green have been wildly efficient through two games, posting 1.15 points per possession against UNI and 1.29 points per possession against Omaha.
St. John’s will need to tighten up on the defensive end.
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The driver of UNT’s early offensive success has been shooting. The Mean Green have shot 45.2% from deep through two games, the ninth-best mark in the nation, per KenPom.
While it’s unlikely that clip continues for the entire year, it isn’t crazy to believe UNT is an excellent shooting team. Aaron Scott is a star, and even Hodge commented this offseason that he could be the most talented player ever to put on a uniform at the program. Also, guards Rubin Jones and C.J. Noland have been solid outside shooters throughout their careers.
UNT wants to slow the pace to a halt, a carryover from McCasland’s coaching days. The Mean Green want to execute in the half-court and force their opponents to work the ball around on the other end, taking away the middle of the floor in a packed-in style of defense.
This style can be incredibly hard to beat if the slow-paced team can shoot the crap out of the ball.
On the defensive end, few teams in the country are as scrappy or as physical as North Texas. While they haven’t forced a ton of turnovers, the perimeter length and athleticism of the Mean Green is very real, making scoring in the half-court a literal chore.
St. John’s has big guards, so perhaps it won’t be as bothered as UNI and Omaha were, and Soriano takes a backseat to nobody from a physicality perspective. St. John’s has the ball handlers, shooters and offensive rebounders to have success against this defense, but it must execute consistently to prevail over a full 40 minutes.
St. John's vs. North Texas
Betting Pick & Prediction
This game will be close, maybe closer than many expect given the popularity of St. John’s in the media. Betting on the Johnnies this year might come with a premium because of the name – they took money against Michigan, for instance, and then were promptly blown out.
UNT is not immune to giving up ground on the glass, and this is where St. John’s must attack. If the Red Storm can win that battle, they have a very good shot at winning the war.
The Mean Green shooting is due for some regression, but can the Johnnies defend their own shadow right now?
St. John’s is simply overvalued right now in the market. As such, you’re forced to take a non-ideal number if you ever want to bet the Johnnies. UNT is a tough team more than capable of hanging around and winning.
Pick: North Texas +3 or Better
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