New York’s two biggest college basketball programs and former Big East rivals meet Tuesday night, and we have a Syracuse vs. St. John’s preview in the finals of the 2022 Empire Classic. The game will be taking place in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Expect a strong showing from each team’s fan base because even though the Red Storm’s campus is much closer, there is a big contingent for the Orange residing in New York City.

Syracuse Escaped Richmond in OT; St. John’s Handled Temple

Syracuse (3-1) nearly saw its record drop to 2-2 on the season Monday night. After a one-sided loss to Colgate in the JMA Wireless Dome last week, the Orange could not afford another loss to a mid-major. They were able to come from behind to send Monday’s game with Richmond to overtime and ended up prevailing 74-71 over the Spiders.

Central to the Orange’s win was a career-high 31 points from Joe Girard, and backcourt mate freshman Judah Mintz added 16.

But it was the Orange defense that came to the rescue in the end, holding Richmond to without a field goal over the final five minutes of regulation. They will need that kind of defensive effort tonight against a potent St. John’s offense. The Red Storm’s scoring ability took care of the Owls in the late game on Monday.

St. John’s Undefeated Coming Into Matchup With Syracuse

The Red Storm (4-0) are averaging 84 points per game following their 78-72 win over Temple, but as expected in the preseason, they are typically better at scoring than defending. This, however, can present a problem for Syracuse, which had major problems defending Colgate last week when the Raiders sank 19 3-pointers, and the Orange’s shooting can often be erratic. Syracuse was also out-rebounded 44-27 Monday night, and St. John’s has been grabbing six more boards per game than the Orange. Second-chance points could also be the difference in this contest.

St. John’s had four starters in double figures last night, led by Montez Mathis with 16. Joel Soriano had 15 (along with 12 rebounds), David Jones added 14, and Andre Curbelo had 13 points.

Syracuse vs. St. John’s Preview and Odds

For the first time this season, the Orange find themselves the betting underdog, and the public seems to agree. After opening at St. John’s -2.5, FanDuel’s line has moved a full point to St. John’s -3.5 as of noon Eastern time on Tuesday.

Syracuse Orange+3.5154.5+135
St. John’s Red Storm-3.5154.5-160

Syracuse coming from behind last night was a good learning experience for the Orange. Adding another mid-major loss in before Thanksgiving would’ve been damaging to their NCAA Tournament resume. This will prove to be one of their more difficult non-conference games, so a competitive effort here will be a positive. But as Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said last week after Colgate, “they’re a lot better than we are right now.” The same might be able to be said for the Red Storm. St. John’s had more players return this season, whereas the Orange are playing more freshman who are in just their fifth college basketball game. That experience edge hurt Syracuse against Colgate. It also almost beat them against Richmond last night. Tonight, we believe St. John’s advantage in that department will be the difference.

In conclusion, we’ll take the Red Storm here along with the over.

Prediction: St. John’s 82, Syracuse 76 (St. Johns -3.5, over 154.5)

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