Saint Joseph's (18-12) vs. (25) Virginia Commonwealth (24-7)|
Friday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (17,732) -- Brooklyn, New York.
Television: TCN, FSN-OH, MW, CSN. Home Record: SJU 11-3, VCU 15-2. Away
Record: SJU 5-8, VCU 8-3. Neutral Record: SJU 2-1, VCU 1-2. Conference Record:
SJU 8-8, VCU 12-4. Series Record: Virginia Commonwealth leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: After being projected as the preseason favorite to win the league,
the Saint Joseph's Hawks find themselves in a must-win scenario as they square
off with the 25th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the quarterfinals of
the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
The winner of this game will take on either the third-seeded Temple Owls or
sixth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen in the semifinals.
Phil Martelli's Hawks had a very disappointing season considering the high
expectations associated with them prior to the inaugural tip-off. It was not
all bad, as Saint Joseph's notched victories over Notre Dame, Harvard, Iona,
Xavier and Temple, but it also fell to teams it was clearly better than in
Fairfield and St. Bonaventure. Saint Joseph's barely survived its first round
tilt against Xavier on Thursday as Langston Galloway saved the day with a pair
of free throws with just over one second remaining.
Galloway finished the night wit a team-best 14 points for the 10th-seeded
Hawks, while Carl Jones and Halil Kanacevic both contributed 11 points, the
latter also accounting for seven rebounds and six assists before fouling out.
Saint Joseph's trailed by eight points in the second stanza before charging
back to punch its ticket to the next round. The team revolves around its high-
scoring backcourt of Carl Jones (14.1 ppg) and Langston Galloway (13.3 ppg).
Those two have accounted for 60 percent of the team's 3- pointers on the year.
Ronald Roberts (11.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and C.J. Aiken (10.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are more
active near the rim. Aiken was the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, but did
not make the First-Team this season despite blocking 2.8 shots per tilt.
This will be just the fourth meeting in history between these schools on the
hardwood. VCU owns a 2-1 all-time series lead after it barely survived its
bout with the Hawks this season with a 92-86 overtime win.
Virginia Commonwealth (24-7, 12-4) managed to clinch the second-seed despite
losing to Temple, 84-76, in its regular-season finale. Shaka Smart's Rams play
a style defense that applies devastating full-court pressure. They have the
highest turnover and steal percentage in the nation, but they rely on forcing
turnovers very much. VCU is 24-0 when forcing 15 turnovers or more, but 0-7
when failing to reach that mark. Smart coached VCU to the Colonial Athletic
Association Tournament championship last season as he led his squad to the
NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.
Treveon Graham has been a huge part of the Rams' success this season as he
spearheads a list of four double-digit scorers with 15.7 ppg. The second most
productive scorer is Juvonte Reddic (14.5 ppg) thanks to his 57.2 percent
shooting from the floor. Reddic is also first on the unit with better than
eight rebounds per contest. While Reddic maintains a presence in the paint,
Troy Daniels (12.2 ppg) is the top 3-point threat, connecting on 3.5 3-point
baskets per game at a 40.8 percent clip.
The Hawks are more talented than their record indicates and it is amazing what
desperation can yield in a win or go home scenario. Saint Joseph's will need
to win out to avoid the NIT, but it is very possible Martelli's squad becomes
the first team to ever cut down the nets in the Barclays Center. VCU, which
thrives off its opposition's mistakes, can down SJU a second time if it
manages to force its magic number of 15 turnovers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 68, Saint Joseph's 63
03/15 10:32:19 ET