Villanova versus Saint Joseph's (PA) - more commonly known as The Holy War in Philadelphia. Villanova has dominated the all-times series 46-25 and has lost just twice in the last ten meetings between the schools. Last year's game was widely hyped given the close matchup in 2012 and St. Joseph's (PA) dominating win in 2011. Villanova responded by nearly reaching the century mark in a 30-point win in Hagan Arena.
There's no doubt who the favorite is this year. Villanova enters at 7-0 and ranked in the Top 10 in both polls. St. Joseph's (PA) has struggled to a 4-3 record, though they are coming off a midweek win over Temple Owls. The Pavilion should be rocking as the first event in a basketball-football doubleheader on campus this weekend.
As one-sided as this matchup appears to be, this is the Super Bowl for the Hawks. With a trip to New York City looming for Villanova next week, they'll need 100% focus on the effort at hand. Here are 3 things to consider for Saturday's game:
It starts and ends with DeAndre Bembry
The 6'6" sophomore wing is the reigning Atlantic 10 and Big 5 Rookie of the Year, and has even more responsibility on his shoulders this year. His 12.1/4.5/2.7 line from last season has increased to 14.1/6.9/3.0 (he leads the team in all three categorizes) but his efficiency has gone way down. Long story short, the Hawks rely way too much on Bembry, and he can fall in to gunner mode. He's shooting just 35% from the field and 21% from beyond the arc, and is averaging nearly 3 turnovers per game.
If the 'Cats can slow Bembry down, it shouldn't be hard to hold the Hawks under 60 points.
The Hawks can't shoot the 3, at all
The top two shooters by percentage on the team are James Demery and West Virginia transfer Aaron Brown. They both sit at 40% on the year, but have taken just 3-point attempts each. Bembry, Isaiah Miles and Chris Wilson all like to shoot the long ball, but none are above 30% on the year.
Jay Wright might want to pay close attention to Wilson though. He was a 35% shooter from outside last year, and we all know how Villanova has a tendency to let guys get hot from long range.
Their defense isn't awful
The Hawks give up about 64 points per game (143rd in the country), and that's including the 94 that Gonzaga hung on them. Nobody other than the 'Zags and Long Island (70 points in an OT loss) have gone over 62 points. While that shouldn't scare Villanova, they need to stick to the gameplan that was so effective against La Salle.
Falling in love with the 3-ball made games against Lehigh and Bucknell much closer than they needed to be. Passing up the 3 for drives to the hoop against La Salle led to a 47-point first half (essentially putting the game to bed) and left the guards open for 3-pointers, which they hit at a 50% clip.
Lather, rinse, repeat, and the Hawk will stay dead.