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St. John’s is this close to going dancing, but ...


St. John’s is doing more than surviving its brutal schedule. It’s knocking off some big-time teams.

Thursday’s 89-72 win against No. 10 UConn was the Johnnies’ fourth win vs. a top 13 team this season, and comes 11 days after hammering Duke. They also beat Notre Dame and Georgetown last month. That’s solid work for any team.

“There are those few moments, they don’t happen very often, when you are able — even when you’re a coach — to step back and take a deep breath and kind of enjoy as a fan what transpired,” coach Steve Lavin said afterward.

Lavin’s team now gets to focus on a pair of tricky road trips – at Cincinnati and Marquette – before coming back home to Madison Square Garden for a Feb. 19 tip vs. Pitt.

According to our resident bracketologist, Dave Ommen, the Johhnies just need to win one of those road games or beat Pitt and they’ll almost certainly be an NCAA tournament lock. But...

(wait for it)

But they can’t stumble against DePaul (Feb. 23) or South Florida (March 5), either. And if you think those two games aren’t a big deal, you haven’t been watching St. John’s this season.

This is a team that’s lost games to St. Bonaventure –at home! -- and Fordham this season, two teams with a combined record of 18-26. Those are bad losses. No way around it. St. John’s is vastly improved since then, but remains a team capable of perplexing outcomes or being on the wrong end of routs.

Lavin’s group can do this. It can reach the Big Dance for the first time since 2002. It just needs to get out of its own way. (And get the ball to Dwight Hardy.)

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.