- St John’s faces North Texas in Charleston, SC, in its first non-home game under head coach Rick Pitino
- The Johnnies are coming off an embarrassing 89-73 home loss to Michigan
- See the St John’s vs North Texas odds, picks, and predictions for Thursday’s matinee on ESPN2
The beginning of the Rick Pitino era in New York took an ugly turn on Monday as the St John’s Red Storm (1-1, 0-0 neutral, 0-2 ATS) were trounced 89-73 by Michigan at MSG. Now Pitino’s group heads south for a battle with one of the top teams in the AAC, the North Texas Mean Green (2-0, 0-0 neutral, 1-1 ATS), at TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina, at 1:30 pm ET.
The Red Storm are listed as 5.5-point favorites on Thursday afternoon.
St John’s vs North Texas Odds
|O 135.5 (-110)
|U 135.5 (-110)
The Red Storm are also -225 moneyline favorites in the college basketball odds for Thursday while North Texas comes back at +190 to move to 3-0 on the season. The total is just 135.5, which is by far the lowest over/under for the Johnnies this year, whose first two games of the season had totals of at 149 and 155.5. Conversely, 135.5 is the highest total that the more-methodical North Texas has faced, with their first two games featuring totals of 129.5 and 132.5. Both teams are 2-0 over/under to date.
St John’s Gets Run Over by UM
An easy 90-74 win over Stony Brook first time out had Johnnies fans feeling confident in the new-look team under two-time national champion Rick Pitino. But their second game – at home against Michigan – was a drastically different story. A back-and-forth battle early turned into a ten-point Wolverine lead at halftime and they never looked back, cruising to a 16-point win. St John’s never trimmed the lead to single digits in the second half.
Pitino has six transfers playing significant minutes, including four starters, and their lack of cohesion was on full display on Monday. St John’s had just 11 assists while committing 16 turnovers.
Joel Soriano, last year’s leading scorer and the only returning starter, led the team with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field plus nine rebounds, but he was the lone bright spot. The rest of the team was 21-of-67 from the floor (31.3%). Poor shooting meant the Johnnies’ 47-39 edge on the glass counted for nothing.
North Texas Dealing With Massive Roster Turnover as Well
The 2022-23 season was a strong one of the Mean Green. They went 31-7 overall and finished second to FAU in the AAC regular-season standings (16-4). After bowing out in the second round of the conference tournament, they were left out of the NCAA Tournament bracket, and were by far the highest-rated team at KenPom (31st) to not be given an at-large berth.
But all three of the team’s double-digit scorers (Tyler Perry, Kai Huntsberry, and Abou Ousmane) either graduated or transferred while head coach Grant McCasland moved to Texas Tech. Longtime assistant Ross Hodge takes over in his first DI head coaching position, and the new-look roster has responded well. The Mean Green earned a gritty 83-77 OT win over Northern Iowa in their first game of the season and followed it up with an easy 75-64 victory over Nebraska Omaha.
Junior forward Aaron Scott is emerging as a true go-to scorer, averaging 22 points per game on a 77.1 Effective Field Goal Percentage. Oklahoma transfer CJ Noland has also started the year strong, with 14.5 PPG on 42.9% shooting from beyond the arc.
St John’s vs North Texas Prediction
While Ross Hodge has done an admirable job of re-tooling the UNT roster, there is a wide gap in talent between Hodge’s group and the squad Pitino put together at St John’s. That said, Pitino hasn’t quite figured out how to make all the pieces fit, and that was evident in Monday’s discombobulated performance against Michigan.
The spread of 5.5 is a big number against a quality team on a neutral court.
St John’s vs North Texas picks:
- North Texas +5.5 (-110)
- Over 135.5 (-110)