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St. John's an under-the-radar treasure

St. John’s could be the worst team in the rugged Big East but one of the best betting investments in the country. 

That’s arguably been the case so far as the Red Storm heads into Wednesday’s game at Georgetown (6:30 p.m., FS1). Both statements will remain true if the Big East stays tough while betting markets don’t respond more quickly to St. John’s impressive efforts.

Let’s take those statements one at a time. Is St. John’s the worst team in the Big East? The league is loaded this season. Ken Pomeroy’s market-respected national rankings did show St. John’s at the bottom of the ladder entering the new week. 

Here were Pomeroy’s rankings before a new set of Big East games began Tuesday night: Butler 5, Seton Hall 19, Villanova 27, Marquette 31, Xavier 35, Creighton 41, Georgetown 46, DePaul 67, Providence 73, St. John’s 76. 

It’s a loaded 10-team league. Right now, all are deserving of consideration for the NCAA tournament or the NIT. 

St. John’s, which beat Arizona 70-67 on a neutral court in San Francisco and lost by only two points to sudden national power Butler, is still grading out below its balling Big East brethren.

Is the Red Storm one of the best betting investments in the country? Clearly. For the season, St. John’s is 9-4-2 against the spread. That’s a 69% cash rate, excluding refunded pushes. Mike Anderson’s troops are 6-1-2 ATS in their last nine games.  

There’s no guarantee that will continue. You’d think betting markets would notice something important happening in New York. But if future prices don’t adjust because the Red Storm stays off the national punditry radar, who knows? 

St. John’s-Georgetown will be a good litmus test for both programs. Each enters 0-2 straight up in league play, with no interest in falling to 0-3. That means peak intensity for well-rested opponents. Be sure you monitor game-day line moves to get a read on how sharps see these teams. 

There are no easy games in the Big East. But the Johnnies are about to start a relatively friendly stretch against the three teams just above them in Pomeroy’s rankings. After visiting Georgetown, they’ll host DePaul on Saturday, then visit Providence on Wednesday. 

If St. John’s can establish superiority over that trio, it will be time to start talking about Big Dance potential. If not, the team will likely stay near the league cellar, hoping to scramble for enough wins to get an NIT invite. 

A quick note that Seton Hall-at-Xavier is also a Wednesday night showcase (8:30 p.m., FS1). It’s illegal to bet Seton Hall games at New Jersey sportsbooks. Pirates backers in other jurisdictions are 10-4 vs. the number. Xavier is a rare Big East disappointment this season, just 4-10-1 ATS.

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