Forget the aesthetics of basketball for a second. Forget the fact that St. John’s didn’t play well enough to beat Gonzaga for a second (they didn’t by the way. Out rebounded 41-18?! Come on fellas.). Forget the fact that during that day in Denver the 12 and 13 seeds won their games to begin the yearly tournament shakeup.
Just understand this statement… The NCAA has something against St. John’s.
Conspiracy theory? Yeah. But do I as a fan have a reason to feel like they do? Hell yes.
This theory stems from the 2000 NCAA season that included an NCAA investigation of Erick Barkley when he was the starting point guard for the Red Storm. Barkley was suspended for two games for borrowing a friend’s car (no, seriously that’s what gets you suspended in the NCAA. Yet John Calipari can have violations at two schools, have banners tore down and his schools removed from the record books and still get coaching jobs whenever he wants. You can’t make this stuff up.) In what was a stupid penalty for a minor incident. St. John’s didn’t seem to suffer as they ran through the Big East winning the regular season and conference tournament.
They were considered a favorite to win the NCAA title and had a shot at a possible number one seed. So naturally the selection committee puts the Big East champion as a two seed… out west… in Arizona… against Northern Arizona in a first round disadvantage… with the possibility of a second round match against the West Coast’s own Gonzaga… yeah, they got hosed.
They were on the NCAA hit list and were put at a disadvantage from the jump. That tournament still ticks me off to this day. No team, not Michigan State, Arizona, Oklahoma or anyone was stopping that team from winning it all. If they would’ve gotten a two seed in the East they would’ve beaten Florida and gotten to the Final 4 and beaten the Spartans for the title. You can’t tell me different.
11 years later after one the best runs that they’ve had since the 98-2000 teams the Johnnies came into this tournament with high hopes and were a dark horse candidate for the Final 4 even without D.J. Kennedy who tore his ACL. All of this ended on Sunday during the selection with this matchup, #6 St. John’s… goes to Colorado… to take on Gonzaga… who after struggling all year is peaking after winning the WCC tournament and 11 of its last 12… Shoot me.
11 years after screwing the Storm the NCAA did it again. Of all of places, they send them out West again to face Gonzaga again. Once I saw that matchup I knew it was over.
Gonzaga is too tall and athletic for the smaller Red Storm who do play physical, but can’t run up and down the floor with a team like this. And it showed.
Besides the rebound margin the Bulldogs got to the line 26 times and dropped 20 assists to the Storm’s 9. It was over before it really even started.
I’m not shocked though. I saw it coming even though my optimism was giving me thoughts of a run deep into March. The Johnnies got a bad matchup and got creamed, that’s NCAA tournament for ya. For all of the magic and success that they accumulated this year it was all undone by the NCAA selection committee in one year. It felt like 2000 all over again, thanks fellas for screwing the Johnnies once again at least you’re consistent with your punishment for a program in one way NCAA.