PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Most of the attention of college basketball fans in the Philadelphia area has been focused on Wednesday night’s Big 5 match-up between #1 Villanova and Temple at the Liacouras Center.
But that will not be the only big game in the city that night, as up on on Hawk Hill, the St. Joseph’s University Hawks will welcome #15 Dayton to Hagan Arena for a critical Atlantic 10 showdown.
The Hawks are now 21-4 (10-2 in the A-10) after beating La Salle in a Big 5 game on Saturday, 88-62.
“To win a Philadelphia game is more than just one win in a column,” St. Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli tells KYW Newsradio. “It matters a great deal to everybody here at St. Joseph’s.”
Listen to the entire interview with St. Joseph’s University head coach Phil Martelli:
St. Joe’s has won three straight games and ten of its last eleven after taking care of the Explorers. Now the Hawks turn their attention to this game with the Flyers. Dayton is 21-3 and 11-1 in the Atlantic 10. They are alone in first place in the conference, a game ahead of the Hawks and VCU.
“They are very similar to Villanova in that they have mental toughness,” Martelli says. “I think when you win five NCAA games in two years, these guys have all been a part of it, the guys that are playing now, large minutes. They believe that they are capable of winning anywhere against anybody.”
Dayton outscores its opponents by more than 10 points a game on average. They shoot 47% from the field as a team, including 36% from three.
“They have great balance,” Martelli says. “They get 22 points a game from their bench. They are a magnificent defensive team, they are not just an offensive team. I would say that the number one thing that they have is a swagger about them. We’re going to have to throw the first punch and keep going for 40 minutes in order to be successful.”
St. Joe’s and Dayton will tip-off at 6:00pm on Wednesday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.