Red hot St. John’s facing pivotal stretch in NYC/NJ

The St. John’s Red Storm are 11-1 and ranked #17 in the country, providing flash backs to the days of Lou Carnesecca and Big East battles at Madison Square Garden and in Queens. The end of 2014 and start of 2015 will provide quite a challenge for the Johnnies as they head into conference play, facing Seton Hall, Butler and Villanova in the span of one week. The outcomes of these games will dictate whether St. John’s will continue to climb the rankings and build confidence in the New Year, or fall to the pack and have to fight and scratch to make their way into March Madness.

Their three upcoming games are detailed below, with ticket prices provided by and parking deals in and around New York City courtesy of

December 31 at Seton Hall | Prudential Center, Newark, NJ | Avg. Ticket Price $65 | NYC Parking

St. John’s is riding a seven-game winning streak as they open conference play vs. Seton Hall in Newark on Wednesday. Included in that stretch is a 12-point win over Syracuse, a historical rival that is no longer a conference foe after realignment. St. John’s suffered their lone loss of the season on November 28 against #10 Gonzaga.

They look to continue the torrid streak against the 10-2 Seton Hall Pirates on New Year’s Eve with a noon tipoff at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Seton Hall dropped their only two games of the season away from home against #11 Wichita State and the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs. Junior guard Sterling Gibbs leads the Pirates with 15.6 points per game and adds 3.3 assists while shooting a blazing hot 50.9% from three.

This will be the first of two meeting between these two teams, with the second coming in late February as Seton Hall takes its turn crossing the river for the showdown.

January 3 vs. Butler | Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY | Avg. Ticket Price $77 | New York City Parking

Butler at 10-3 will face Villanova on Wednesday in the first leg of two straight against ranked conference opponents. Their marquee win came earlier this season against then-fifth-ranked North Carolina by a score of 74-66. In this game, Butler’s junior guard Kellen Dunham (16.6 points per game) will have to contend with St. John’s star guard D’Angelo Harrison, who averages 19 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Butler has not sustained the level of play that saw them reach two consecutive NCAA Title Game appearances under Brad Stevens, but is still a legitimate threat to win the conference and make a run in March. They’ll have to contend with St. John’s twice in a one-month span, and winning this first meeting would set them on the right path.

January 6 vs. Villanova | Madison Square Garden, NY, NY | Avg. Ticket Price $84 | Manhattan Parking Discounts

Undefeated and seventh-ranked Villanova will pose the biggest challenge for St. John’s during this difficult three-game stretch. The 12-0 Wildcats have defeated VCU, Michigan, Illinois and Syracuse thus far in out-of-conference play and hope to keep that going as the conference schedule tips off this week.

They sport a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures led by Darrun Hilliard II (12.6 per game) and another three players averaging over 7.5 points per game. They also have three different players averaging over five rebounds, led by Daniel Ochefu at 7.4 per game. Villanova is 29th in the nation in scoring, posting just under 78 points per game, so the Johnnies will have their work cut out for them and must control the glass to prevent second-chance scoring opportunities. The Red Storm are 40th in the nation averaging 40 rebounds per game, so with continue success there they will stand a much better chance of handing Villanova its first loss.