St. John's Storm Brewing - NBC New York

St. John's Storm Brewing

Rutgers will try to spoil the return of good feelings at the Garden.



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    Scarlet Knights of Rutgers

    will be across the floor from the St. John's Red Storm Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in what should be one of the more raucous midweek

    Big East

    tournament games in memory.


    That's what comes with a St. John's team that spent the last couple of months authoring one of the best feel-good college basketball stories this city has ever seen.

    After years of misery, a roster stocked with seniors who accomplished nothing and a new coach best known for being telegenic, the Johnnies became giant slayers who captured a city that's had its basketball bona fides reawakened at all levels.

    That's why, even if they weren't able to do enough to pick up a double bye, they enter Wednesday's game as the big kid on the block.

    No one would have believed that was possible when the season got underway, but its the facts of life for a team that has owned every opponent they've faced at MSG this season.

    The head that wears the crown hasn't been particularly heavy. The long stay in the closet has meant that this team still feels like a gift rather than one burdened with the great expectations that come with successful Big East campaigns.

    That will change when they hit the court on Wednesday.

    By virtue of their high seed, lowly regarded opposition and home court advantage, the Red Storm will be held to its highest standard yet.

    Losing to Rutgers wouldn't threaten a tournament bid nor would it dismiss anything they've accomplished to this point, but it would take a lot of wind out of their sails at the very moment when support for the team is reaching a critical mass.

    Maybe that's not such a bad thing for St. John's -- reminders that you haven't won anything of significance yet can wind up helping a team down the road -- but it would be a brutal blow for what's shaping up to be a hot Big East tournament.

    The extra special buzz around this year's party would disappear with the Johnnies out of the running, as would the prospect of wild crowds throughout the weekend. 

    Great basketball would still remain, but we get that every year. This year is supposed to be different, but it is up to the Johnnies to keep on doing their part.  

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.