By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—It’s plagued them for months. And though the St. Joe’s Hawks are a far different, far better team than they were that chilly December 7 Saturday night, they want another crack at Villanova.
If they can’t get motivated to face Villanova, which devoured the Hawks by 30 points in their first meeting this year, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, then nothing will be able to jolt No. 10 seed St. Joe’s past Shabazz Napier and No. 7 seed Connecticut on Thursday.
Here’s a look at St. Joseph’s-UConn.
Site & Time: First Niagra Center, Buffalo, N.Y.
Second Round at 6:55 PM Thursday
No. 7 Connecticut Huskies
Record: 26-8 (12-6, 4th AAC)
Coach: Kevin Ollie (2nd Year)
Key Wins: Florida, Cincinnati (2), Memphis (2)
Record vs RPI Top 50: 7-5
NCAA Record: 52-29 (32nd appearance)
Last Appearance: Round of 64 (2012)
Best Finish: National Champions (1999, 2004, 2011)
Phillip Nolan F So. 6-10 3.6 ppg
DeAndre Daniels F Jr. 6-9 12.5 ppg
Niels Giffey F Sr. 6-7 8.5 ppg
Ryan Boatright G Jr. 6-0 11.8 ppg
Shabazz Napier G Sr. 6-1 17.4 ppg
No. 10 St. Joe’s Hawks
Record: 21-9 (11-5, 4th A-10) Atlantic 10 Tournament Champions
Coach: Phil Martelli (6 NCAA wins)
Key Wins: VCU, Massachusetts
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 4-5
NCAA Record: 18-23 (20th appearance)
Last Appearance: 2008
Best Finish: Final Four (1961)
Ronald Roberts F Sr. 6-8 14.1 ppg
DeAndre Bembry F Fr. 6-6 13.4 ppg
Halil Kanacevic F Sr. 6-8 11.3 ppg
Langston Galloway G Sr. 6-2 16.8 ppg
Chris Wilson G Jr. 6-3 8.9 ppg
Why St. Joe’s will win: The Hawks seem to be on a mission. It’s a team that’s beaten NCAA Tournament teams Dayton and VCU twice during the A-10 regular season. Plus, they’re hot. The Hawks have won their last three, and are 9-2 over their last 11 games. They are not—repeat, not—the team that Villanova smoked, 98-68, back on December 7. St. Joe’s seems hellbent on disproving that. What’s more, UConn has been an enigma the whole season, at times looking great, and other times sputtering.
The pick: St. Joe’s—72-69. This has all the makings of being a great game. UConn all-everything senior guard Shabazz Napier will no doubt cause havoc. But he may not get much help. St. Joe’s will counter with senior guard Langston Galloway. He averaged a career-best 17.4 points a game this season and is an accurate three-point shooter. Watch this: The Hawks were one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country, ranked 329 of 345 D-I schools in free-throw percentage, at 64.1-percent. Conversely, UConn was one of the best, ranked No. 9 in the nation at 76.1-percent. Will the Hawks be haunted at the line?