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St. Joe’s Wants A Holy War Saturday

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(credit:  Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

(credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

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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)

Projected starters

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)

Projected starters

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?

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