Sunday, March 17, 2024

St. John's Passed Over For NCAA Tournament; Here's What They Decided On NIT


St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino  and players before a game at Carnesecca Arena on December 6. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm received the sobering news that they will not be partaking in the NCAA Tournament when the 68 teams competing were announced tonight, Selection Sunday.

St. John's, in their first season with Rick Pitino as Head Coach, hit the presumed "magic number" for wins to be considered for the Tournament, 20, when they ran out Seton Hall, on Thursday in the Big East Tournament. This came after they closed the regular season with five straight wins to give them an 11-9 record in Big East play.  They then gave a hard-fought effort against UConn on Friday, as they lost in the Semifinals, 95-90.

This was the fifth time in the last two decades that St. John's had reached the 20-win plateau, and the 11 Big East wins were the most since the 2010-11 season, when they made the Tournament in Steve Lavin's first year at the helm. 

The Tournament Committee did not just snub St. John's, but fellow Big East schools Seton Hall and Providence, as well. The Big East will be sending just three teams to the tournament, Connecticut, whose quest to repeat will begin in Brooklyn on Friday as the Number 1 seed in the East regional; Marquette, and Creighton.

After this was revealed, St. John's informed the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) selection committee that it requests to be removed from consideration for the 2024 NIT, effectively ending their season.

Pitino said in a statement, "First and foremost, we have great respect for the National Invitation Tournament and St. John's storied history in the event. After thorough consideration of all that goes into postseason participation, we believe at this time it is best for our team and basketball program to prepare for next season. We remain focused on building a championship-level basketball program here at St. John's. I would like to thank all our fans for their wonderful support this past season and look forward to the bright future ahead for St. John's Basketball."

Though this season feels like it had a premature ending, the team advanced so far in one year under Pitino. This in terms of their level of play, as stars like Daniss Jenkins, Joel Soriano, and Chris Ledlum led them to be in consideration for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2019, and the genuine interest he generated in the team throughout New York City. That will only continue into should be a fascinating summer to see who will fill out Pitino's roster in what is now one of the hottest destinations in college basketball.

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