St. John’s Basketball: Shocking the World One Upset at a Time

January 20th. Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. The St. John’s Red Storm appeared to be on their way to their first Big East Conference win, until Marcus Derrickson buried a three with 3.9 seconds left to force overtime. Georgetown would go on to win in the extra period and the Johnnies were still winless.

Fast forward two weeks and that same team has had maybe the best five day stretch in the history of college basketball. Chris Mullin and his team knocked off the number one ranked Villanova Wildcats Wednesday night, in Philadelphia. The Wildcats were without Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, but they still should have had no problem at home against a St John’s team that was 0-11 in Big East games this season. But they did.
The upset over #1 came just days after the Red Storm took down the #4 ranked Duke Blue Devils inside Madison Square Garden. Duke has had their struggles this year, and St. John’s does play well at MSG, but still should not have given Duke so many issues. They still have the likely first pick in the NBA Draft, as well as two or three more future pros. But they struggled too. With the streak the Storm have been on the question has to be asked:

Has there been better back-to-back upsets ever in the NCAA?

The first team that comes to mind is the 2006 George Mason team and their magical run through the NCAA Tournament. That team had some improbable wins to say the least. They beat a UNC team with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. They also knocked off a UConn team with Rudy Gay and Josh Boone that was favored to win the Championship. Those wins weren’t back-to-back, however.

Then there was the 2011 VCU team that Jay Bilas famously ranted on ESPN saying they had no business being in the NCAA tournament. That team did beat the consensus favorite Kansas on their way to a Final Four, but no other team was of the caliber Duke and Villanova are this year.

There have been a number of upsets in NCAA history, on stages bigger than regular season games in early February. There’s Villanova over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the National Championship. Jim Valvano and NC State took down heavily favored Houston for the title. And don’t forget that time Chaminade took down a Ralph Sampson led Virginia team. St John’s beating #1 ranked Villanova or Duke does not compare to these upsets, but combined it’s something special.

Come March these are two teams who could be #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. St. John’s won’t be there, but they’ll have wins over both them. That’s something you cannot take away. And while people make a big deal about moral victories or participation trophies, for a team that has as little going for it as St. John’s does, they may hold the title for best back-to-back upsets in college hoops history.


PS – This is a last minute ploy to watch Shamorie Ponds for at least a half sometime this year. He is one of the most underappreciated guards in the country because he plays for St. John’s, but he is incredibly talented. Just watch his highlights from the past two games.

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