The St. John's Red Storm face the Gonzaga Bulldogs tonight at approximately 9:45 pm EST from Denver, in perhaps the most intriguing of the 16 games today.
The first-year head coach has brought St. John's back to the tournament for the first time in over a decade and has garnered the team a Top 25 ranking -- a first since November 28, 2000.
Lavin inherited a team of accomplished seniors. That leadership has eased the process of moving the program forward. Of the team's seven leading scorers, six are seniors.
The most notable is guard Dwight Hardy, who is averaging 18.2 points per game on the season.
But the Red Storm will be without D.J. Kennedy, a 6'5 senior swingman, who tore his right ACL in the Big East Tournament. Lavin described the loss of Kennedy as devastating.
Gonzaga, on the other hand, has been a fixture in the tournament. This is the 13th time the school has been in the tournament, and under head coach Mark Few, the Bulldogs have gone 12-straight times.
This season, however, the task was rather difficult.
The Zags struggled in the early part of the season and against Top 25 competition, and needed a late-season run to overcome St. Mary's.
They are led by a solid trio of guard Steven Gray, center Robert Sacre, and forward Elias Harris.
The winner will face the winner of BYU and Wofford.