St. Joseph's (PA) will enter the contest on a one game losing streak coming at the hands of the Temple Owls on Wednesday, a 69-77 defeat. Villanova, on the other hand, has yet to drop a game this season. They are 8-0 and most recently beat UPenn at home by 23.
Villanova and St. Joseph's (PA) played their first contest in 1921; Villanova won the game in a 31-22 shootout. The teams have since met for a total of 69 games, with Villanova winning 44 of the matchups. Since Jay Wright's arrival on the Main Line, the Wildcats have won 8 of the 12 contests. Also, this happened the last time the two schools met.
St. Joseph's (PA) sits at 4-3 on the season, relegating them to the bottom third of the Atlantic 10. Expectations were high entering the start of the year as multiple analysts placed them among the competitors for the conference title. The Hawks are scoring 74 ppg and giving up 71.6 ppg on average.
Seniors Langston Galloway, Ronald Roberts Jr. and Halil Kanacevic provide the Hawks with experience and leadership. To this point, the trio has not disappointed. Galloway has produced the best statistics out of the three. The 6'2" guard from Baton Rouge, LA is putting up 18 ppg and shooting a scorching 46% from distance. Villanova's guards must take great care to know where he is at all times during the course of the game. Expect constant pressure from Dylan Ennis and Tony Chennault as they attempt to disrupt the star guard's rhythm.
Roberts and Kanacevic round out the frontcourt for St. Joe's. Together, they are combining for more than 26 ppg and pulling down around 15 rpg. Despite his 6'8" frame, Kanacevic leads the team in assists at a 4.1 apg clip.
St. Joseph's (PA) struggles with depth; only 7 players log more than 10 minutes. Villanova's aggressive defense and effective role players should be able to wear down the Hawks by the end of the night. Considering this is the Holy War, I expect the final score to be closer than 'Nova fans would like. Ultimately, I predict the 'Cats to come out on top 81-68.
Phil Martelli continues to lead St. Joseph's (PA), now coaching his 19th season. Before picking up the head coaching gig, Martelli spent 10 years on the bench as an assistant coach for the Hawks. His most notable success came during the 2003-2004 season. With the help of 2004 Wooden Award winner Jameer Nelson, Martelli led his team to a 30-2 record and an Elite Eight appearance. Since that historic season, Martelli has only reached the NCAA Tournament once, in 2008.
Michael J. Hagan, for whom their Arena is named, was named Forbes Entrepreneur of the year in 2006 for his role as CEO of Nutrisystem. St. Joseph's (PA) might calls themselves invincible, considering the star of the 2006 movie "Invincible," Vince Papale, graduated in 1968. Perhaps most famous of all, ESPN college basketball analyst and creator of "Bracketology" Joe Lunardi graduated in 1982.
Alumni Gamewatches (all times ET)
Denver - 4:00-6:30 PM, Churchill's Public House, 1560 Boulder Street
Manhattan - 6:00-9:00 PM, The Mason Jar, 43 E 30th Street
Chicago - 5:00-7:00 PM, The Kerryman, 661 N. Clark Street
Boston - 6:00-8:00 PM, The Warehouse, 40 Broad Street
Baltimore - 6:00-8:00 PM, Rowhouse Grille, 1400 Light Street
Orange County (Doubling as a Christmas Party!) - 6:00-8:00 PM, Pitfire Pizza, 353 17th St., Costa Mesa