The St. Joseph's Hawks are a trendy pick after blazing through the Atlantic 10 Tournament last week, but does Phil Martelli's squad really have what it takes to down the UConn Huskies?
What to Watch For: St. Joseph's
One of the more incredible things about St. Joe's Atlantic 10 Championship last week is that they did with, basically, a six to seven man rotation. You have to ask yourself if Martelli can continue to do this against some deep, physically imposing squads?
The name that is on the tip of everyone's tongue right now is Halil Kanacevic after he averaged 18.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Kanacevic is just one guy in the Hawks' extremely balanced and efficient attack, if he's having an off night then look for guys like Langston Galloway, De'Andre Bembry, or Ronald Roberts Jr. to pick up the slack. Everyone on the floor for the Hawks is a threat and it seems like the only way to slow them down is to put them at the free throw line where they are shooting just 63.9% on the year which ranks 337th in the country.
St. Joe's is your typical scrappy, balanced A10 squad. After a rough start the season they've been about as consistent as it gets. You also have to think the Hawks are also motivated to get another swing at Villanova, who embarrassed them 98-68 in December.
What to Watch For: UConn
Kevin Ollie's Huskies are being overlooked and its as simple as that. It seems like everyone and their mother is picking St. Joe's to win this game but UConn is still one of the nation's top teams and destroyed Memphis and took down Cincinnati just a week ago. It was also tremendous to see how the Huskies responded in the American Championship Game against Louisville after being pummeled by the Cardinals 81-48 just a week prior.
Of course the Huskies biggest threat is Shabazz Napier who has a knack for nailing huge shots for Kevin Ollie. The senior will be on the floor virtually all night and is averaging 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game. DeAndre Daniels is the Huskies second scoring option and has posted 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds this year.
Can UConn handle the balance and size of St. Joe's? To be honest, I really don't know the answer. Expect a grind-it-out and maybe ugly in Buffalo on Thursday. Despite the old school basketball that you'll be watching, this should be a very solid game. Look for St. Joe's to escape with a 65-63 win.
Thursday, March 20h at 7:55 p.m. Eastern on TBS
#7 UConn Huskies vs. #10 St. Joseph's Hawks
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York