This year, the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden might have a different vibe. Saint John's has finally grabbed New York's attention after years of misery.
The Red Storm have failed to win only once. That was against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium by only nine points. They have already beaten some good mid-majors like Temple and Siena in the Philly Hoop Group Classic.
Saint John's will play their first-round game against Hofstra, and then play either Davidson or Cornell in the second round.
Saint John's vs. Hofstra
The Hofstra Pride (7-3, 1-0 CAA) have surprised many by winning seven of their first 10 games. Their three loses have come to Kansas, Connecticut, and Charlotte. They have won seven out of their last eight and come to The Garden with confidence.
Although Hofstra has one of the best teams they have had in years, they will not be able to pull out a win against Saint John's.
Hofstra's main scoring attack is Chris Jenkins. He is averaging 19.7 point per game and has scored as many as 38 against Fairfield. Hofstra has one other player scoring in double digits, Nathaniel Lester.
Saint John's (8-1) only has one player scoring in double digits, D.J. Kennedy, they have four other players averaging 8.4 points or more. With five different players that can be relied on to put the ball in the basket, Saint John's will have an easier time scoring.
Saint John's 76, Hofstra 68
Davidson vs. Cornell
Everybody knows it—Davidson (2-7, 1-1 SoCon) is not the same without Stephen Curry. They are 2-7 with only one win against a Division I team.
However, Cornell (7-2) has continued to build on a successful program that made the tournament as a 14 seed last season. The Big Red have four players scoring in double digits with Geoff Reeves, a three-point shooter, averaging 8.2.
Davidson has been able to play somewhat close games with some good mid-majors this year, but they have not been able to pull out victories. This will most likely be a similar case.
Mainly, the Wildcats statistics are pretty similar to the Big Red's. However, Cornell has an edge in all of the major stat categories and they will be able to come up with a win on Sunday in the MSG.
Cornell 78, Davidson 65
Consolation Game: Davidson vs. Hofstra
This game would most likely be pretty similar to the Davidson vs. Cornell game, except the end result will be a little closer. Hofstra will probably come out with a third place finish in the Holiday Festival.
The Pride outscore the Wildcats, out-rebound them, out-shoot them, and also force more turnovers then them.
Although most of these categories have small differences between the two teams, Hofstra still has the edge in all of them.
Hofstra 73, Davidson 66
Championship Game: Cornell vs. Saint John's
Cornell is fighting with Harvard to be considered the top Ivy League team this year. Both Cornell and Harvard have beaten good teams this year. A win for Cornell in The Holiday Festival would really help back up their resumé.
If Cornell continues to play the way they have played against other quality teams, they will be able to win The Holiday Festival.
Cornell beats out Saint John's in all major statistical categories except for blocks and rebounds.
This game will serve as the best game in this tournament. Both teams have five players scoring eight points or more per game. Any one of the players has the potential to have a great game and be the hero.
Many eyes will be on D.J. Kennedy and Ryan Wittman, the leading scorers for each team.
Wittman, averaging 18 points per game, has hit 26-of-63 three-pointers, marking at 41.3 percent. As a team, Cornell shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc to Saint John's 30.9 percent.
D.J. Kennedy is averaging 16.4 points per game and is the leading scorer for Saint John's.
Lastly, Cornell beats out Saint John's in what could be the stat that decides many close games—free throws.
Saint John's hits a miserable 68 percent of their free throws. Only D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy make at least three quarters of their free throws. The rest of the team cannot be relied on.
Cornell hits 77 percent of their free throws. The Big Red have four players who make at least 83 percent of their free throws. They will be able to hit free throws down the stretch and secure a victory.
Cornell 81, Saint John's 77