NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – It’s poll fever at MSG.
St. John’s is back in the Top 25 of The Associated Press’ college basketball poll for the first time in over a decade.
In the only change near the bottom of the rankings, St. John’s (17-9), which beat a top 10 team for the fourth time this season with a win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, moved in at No. 23.
The Red Storm were last ranked in November 2000.
St. John’s replaced Utah State, which dropped out despite winning two games last week.
Steve Lavin left the broadcast booth in April to take over the St. John’s program and he inherited a team with 10 seniors, all of whom had never been in the NCAA tournament or the Top 25.
After the Pittsburgh win, Justin Burrell, one of the seniors, was confident the Red Storm would move into the poll.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s been a long four years without that number. We deserve to see that number.”
Lavin was happy for his veteran team.
“I think it’s a benchmark of achievement for the senior class and naturally it will be helpful in recruiting with the national exposure,” the former UCLA coach said. “It is empirical evidence that their hard work is paying off.”
Lavin said you try not to have “emotional peaks and valleys and you are always concerned and mindful of complacency. But with this group, with an outstanding work ethic, focus and resolve to finish their careers on a high note.”
The Red Storm’s strength of schedule is another sign of what this team has been able to achieve with five wins over ranked teams, four in the Big East and another over Duke.
“We are building our resume, our body of work, or as they say, an argument to the selection committee,” Lavin told WFAN’s Evan Roberts on February 11. “Here’s what we have going for us, we have the number one or number two strength of schedule in the country.”
St. John’s gives the Big East eight ranked teams, four more than Big 12 and five more than the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference.
St. John’s also beat Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke and Connecticut this season, all big wins in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee.
The Red Storm are looking for their first bid since 2002.
Are the Johnnies a lock to make the tourney? Sound off in the comments below…
|1||Duke 25-2||1531 (35)||5|
|2||Ohio State 25-2||1519 (10)||2|
|3||Kansas 26-2||1457 (5)||1|
|4||Pittsburgh 24-3||1452 (12)||4|
|5||Texas 23-4||1395 (1)||3|
|6||San Diego State 27-1||1327||6|
|7||Brigham Young 25-2||1261 (2)||7|
|9||Notre Dame 21-5||1036||8|
|19||North Carolina 20-6||495||19|
|21||Texas A&M 21-5||342||21|
|23||St. John’s 17-9||214||NR|
|View Complete Poll|
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)