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Johnnies face tough run as regular season winds down

Jakarr Sampson #14 of the St. John's Red

Jakarr Sampson #14 of the St. John's Red Storm. (Getty) Credit: Jakarr Sampson #14 of the St. John's Red Storm. (Getty)

St. John's sits at 15-9 (7-5 in the Big East) entering tonight's game at No. 12 Louisville. Right now, the Red Storm are the perfect example of what the bubble looks like for the NCAA Tournament come March. If they want to change that, they'll need to prove they belong.

Taking care of business
Through 24 games, the Red Storm have put up some quality wins and some bad losses. As the team approaches the end of the regular season, it is faced with its toughest stretch yet. Five of their final seven games are against ranked opponents, a run that began with Sunday's loss at Syracuse.

Must-win games include opponents such as South Florida and Providence, as well as either Pittsburgh or Marquette. If St. John's beats all four, it likely will need one more win in the Big East tournament to boost its case. If the Red Storm win just three or fewer of their remaining six games, the March 5 matchup at Notre Dame (a team they defeated earlier this season) becomes vital.

Big East Tournament
If the conference tournament began Thursday, the Red Storm would be the ninth seed and face eighth seed Cincinnati, who they beat on Jan. 5.

While the ninth seed wouldn't necessarily be favorable, the Red Storm could move up a few places in the standings and be in position to face a lower-tier team, such as Providence or DePaul, to pad their record.

Current NCAA hopes
The Red Storm find themselves bouncing in and out of the experts' projected field of 68. Joe Lunardi of ESPN had them as one of the "first four out," while Andy Glockner of SI.com placed them as a No. 11 seed when each updated their projections on Tuesday.

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