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The Holy War: Villanova Wildcats vs. St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks Preview

We're hoping for as many of these as possible on Saturday night.
We're hoping for as many of these as possible on Saturday night.

It's tough to spit out, but the St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks have actually made a better start to their 2011-2012 season than the Villanova Wildcats. While there's definitely been a little variation in the SOS thus far, St. Joe's (PA) have taken care of business when they've needed too and they've already scored a major upset to hang their hats on, defeating then #19 Creighton last weekend.

Villanova comes in to the game fresh off a win over Boston U., but this will be a different animal. For the first time ever, this rivalry game will be played at miniscule Hagan Arena on the St. Joe's (PA) campus. While the move was originally viewed as a marketing ploy (and it still really is), there is no doubt that it will be a crazed atmosphere and will provide St. Joe's (PA) with a significant home court advantage.

After The Jump we'll take a closer look at this year's Hawks team.

Phil Martelli will throw out a very balanced offensive team against Jay Wright's young squad. Martelli will entrust the bulk of the scoring to a very talented backcourt, led by Carl Jones (averaging 19.4 ppg) and Langston Galloway (15.6 ppg). Both Jones and Galloway are very good 3-point shooters, something Villanova will have to be aware of if they're to have any chance of winning this game.

Inside things don't drop off much. C.J. Aiken averages 11.3 ppg and leads the country in blocks per game. Ronald Roberts averages 10.4 ppg while Halil Kanacevic leads the team in rebounding. All in all, a pretty well-rounded group that should pose a threat to Villanova almost every trip down the floor because anyone is capable of scoring. It reminds me a lot of the Saint Louis group that picked 'Nova apart.

Villanova is coming off of their best defensive effort of the season against BU, so hopefully they've built up some momentum in that department.

Mouphtaou Yarou is going to have to keep up his dominant play inside, but that won't be easy against a huge body in Kanacevic. It should be interesting to see how Mouph deals with him. Will he bang down low or will he step out for his new favorite jumpshot? Owning the boards will be a deciding factor in this game, so this is a matchup to watch.

Maalik Wayns vs. Carl Jones will be the matchup that everybody focuses in on, and with good reason. Both are athletic guards who like to get to the rim, but have the capability of knocking down the outside shot. Along with the Yarou-Kanacevic matchup, this could determine Saturday night's winner.

While Villanova is probably the more talented team, we've said that multiple times this year and the 'Cats have still come out losers. This is going to be a wild atmosphere (perhaps even crazier than Temple) and the young players won't be afforded the opportunity for mistakes. They'll need to come ready to play.

The x-factor appears to be the play of both Dominic Cheek and James Bell. Both were removed from the starting lineup last game, and both seemed to respond with above-average games. It will be interesting to see what Jay Wright does in this hostile atmosphere. I'm guessing Tahj and Dom are back in the starting 5, as they own more experience than Ty Johnson and Achraf Yacoubou.


35 Carl Jones
19.4 3.2 3.8 0.0 1.8
10 Langston Galloway
15.6 2.1 4.6 0.4 1.7
1 C.J. Aiken
11.3 1.4 5.4 4.8
13 Ronald Roberts Jr.
10.4 0.1 5.7 1.0 0.1
21 Halil Kanacevic
7.0 1.9 6.1 1.3 0.6

Prediction: I will never pick the Hawks, because the Hawk is dead. And has been for years. Villanova wins this one late, courtesy of a James Bell 3.

The game is being broadcast on the CBS College Sports Network, and begins at 8 pm ET. We'll have our game thread up at 7:30. See you there!

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