Here are three things to watch in Saturday afternoon's game between St. John's (11-6, 4-3 in Big East) and Cincinnati (16-3, 3-3) at Carnesecca Arena.
Tip-off is at 4 p.m., and the game is available on ESPN3.com (local blackout rules apply). The game will also air locally on SNY.
CONNECT FOUR: Cincinnati is No. 4 in all of Division I in two categories: scoring defense, and turnovers per game. The Bearcats have allowed opponents to average just 56.7 points per game against them, and are committing only 10.5 turnovers per contest.
What does that mean for the Red Storm? They need to treasure the basketball on Saturday. They need to take smart, high-percentage shots in their half-court offense, and they need to avoid giving the ball away. St. John's has been good in the turnover category this season, but committed a season-high 25 against Louisville on Wednesday.
LOCAL FLAVOR: The Bearcats' top two scorers are 6-foot-3 junior guard Dion Dixon (12.7 ppg) and 6-foot-9 junior forward Yancy Gates (11.5 ppg). But keep an eye on Sean Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-4 redshirt-freshman guard originally from Yonkers, N.Y. Kilpatrick was a three-time all-state player at White Plains High School, is averaging 10.1 points per game off the bench.
CRITICAL JUNCTURE: Every game is important this time of year, but this is one is particularly crucial for these two teams. Cincinnati started the season 15-0, but has lost three of its past four -- albeit against No. 7 Villanova, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 16 Notre Dame, all on the road. St. John's is coming off a brutal 88-63 loss at No. 15 Louisville.
Both of these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack in the Big East -- but that can be good enough to make the Big Dance. St. John's and Cincinnati could both very well find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and their two games against each other (they play again on Feb. 13) could make a huge difference. Expect high intensity from both squads.