St. John’s gets a virtual home game when it battles DePaul in the opening round of the Big East tournament Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The winner of this matchup will face #2 seed Villanova in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The seventh-seeded Red Storm (16-14) closed the regular season with an 85-77 loss to Marquette on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Dylan Addae-Wusu scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and Julian Champagnie, named to the All-Big East first team, added 15.
“I thought our guys competed at a high level,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “They played to win. We left some plays out there on the floor. At the end of the day, I thought they left everything they had out there on the floor.”
St. John’s lost three of its last four games but remains confident entering postseason play.
“We’ve had a rough year, ups and downs, some games we should have won, some games we gave away,” Champagnie said. “But we’re not done. I don’t know what anybody else thinks — I don’t really care what anybody else thinks — the players are not done. We’re not done fighting.”
#10 seed DePaul (15-15) will look to win at least one game in the Big East tourney for the third consecutive year.
The Blue Demons fell in their regular season finale, 75-68, at Connecticut on Saturday.
Javon Freeman-Liberty, named to the All-Big East second team, paced DePaul with 22 points while Brandon Johnson added 14 and David Jones had 13.
Freeman-Liberty was injured for a stretch earlier this season but poured in a career-high 39 in a 99-94 shootout win against St. John’s on Feb. 27 and appears to be peaking at the right time.
“We just got to keep playing how we are playing now, stay focused,” said Freeman-Liberty, who has scored at least 22 points in each of the last five games. “That’s one of the key words we have been using lately — staying focused.”
The Blue Demons have struggled on the glass all season and it was evident again as they were outrebounded 49-31 against the Huskies.
“Any time you get beat on the boards by 18, that’s not a formula for success,” DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said.
DePaul forward Javan Johnson (hand) is unlikely to play in the conference tournament opener.