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St. Joe’s Opens NIT Vs. St. John’s

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Minnesota v Saint Joseph
Matt Leon Matt Leon
Coming on board at KYW was a homecoming for Matt Leon. Born and raised...
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By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – While most of the attention is on the city schools that are getting ready for the NCAA Tournament,  a fourth city school has earned a postseason berth as St. Joe’s is in the NIT field and they will open things up on Tuesday night by hosting St. John’s.

“There are 100 teams still playing basketball in this country,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli tells KYW Newsradio.  “We’re in a tournament where you are competing for a championship, playing a Big East school, an iconic program.  So there’s a lot to be excited about.”

St. Joe’s is 18-13 on the season.  They advanced to the quarterfinals of last week’s Atlantic 10 Tournament, beating Xavier in a first-round thriller, before falling to VCU.

St. John’s is 16-15 and they actually bring a five-game losing streak into this game.  Last time out, they lost in the second round of the Big East Tournament to Villanova on Wednesday.

“They drive the ball to the basket,” Martelli says. “They play with tremendous energy defensively, holding opponents to under 40% field goal percentage.”

This is the second straight season the Hawks have made the post-season (both NIT) and Martelli really wants to make it count.

“I have talked to my team about making their mark,” Martelli says.  “This group has not won a postseason game.  We’ve won Atlantic 10 (tournament) games, but we haven’t won postseason games.  And here’s another opportunity right in front of us, and playing at home, in front of their friends and family.”

The winner of this game will play the winner of Virginia and Norfolk State in the second round.

St. Joe’s and St. John’s will tip-off at 7:00pm.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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