#14 Villanova Wildcats (8-0) vs. St. Joseph’s Hawks (4-3)
When: Saturday, December 7, 2013, 6 p.m.
Where: Hagan Arena (St. Joseph’s), Philadelphia, PA
Coverage: CBS Sports Network
St. Joseph’s Previous Season Record: 18-14, Lost to St. John’s in first round of NIT
Key Players for St. Joseph’s: #10 Langston Galloway (6-2, 202) Sr., G; #13 Ronald Roberts Jr. (6-8, 225) Sr., F; #45 Halil Kanacevic (6-8, 255) Sr., F
Scouting Report: St. Joe’s is a tricky team, they’re a lot better than their record suggests. They can get into these close scrappy games against insignificant teams, but when it comes to a big game, it is a whole new mindset. They gave Creighton a scare at home until Division I’s active leading scorer Doug McDermott hit a clutch shot to put the game away. Against Temple last night, they hung around for most of the game until a late Temple run would seal their fate. The Hawks will look to their four-year starter Langston Galloway. Galloway is currently averaging 18.1 points per game, a number higher than any other average in his seasons past. He is definitely one of the better players in all of the Big 5, and can score in a multitude of ways. Outside, inside, free throw line – it doesn’t matter, he will get the job done. Currently this season, he is shooting about 46% from the floor, 78.8% from the line, and a respectable 46% from beyond the arc. He takes good care of the ball and does not turn it over often. Galloway is their main long range threat, where he is shooting 23 for 50. Only other member on the team that comes closest in three point attempts and shots made is point guard Chris Wilson (9 made through 27 attempts). Right behind Galloway is Ronald Roberts Jr, a forward who has scored in the double digits every game this season. Roberts Jr. has already logged two double-doubles this season. He is a huge threat inside and is a great scorer and rebounder. He averages 17.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He is also solid defensively and has helped keep the paint on lockdown. Averaging 1.1 blocks a game, Roberts Jr. generally limits the scoring of his opposition in the paint. His partner in crime inside is none other than the infamous Halil Kanacevic. For Villanova fans or those who aren’t familiar with the name, Kanacevic received a lot of notoriety for the last time the Hawks and Wildcats met in the Pavilion last season. Kanacevic would make a three pointer and proceed to flip off the Villanova student section, sending the Pavilion into a frenzy when St. Joe’s was not penalized for his actions. He would go on to miss two crucial free throws down the stretch and then turn the ball over to end any hopes of a comeback. Kanacevic isn’t going to put up flashy numbers on the scoreboard, but he will help out in other areas. This season, he is averaging 8.6 points per game and a team-leading 7.7 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in assists, where he is averaging 4.1 per game. He and Roberts Jr. are a formidable duo inside. Also look keep an eye out for the up and coming freshman DeAndre Bembry. He is averaging 10.1 points per game. As he tries to accustom himself to the college game, he has shown that he is capable of having a big game. He had a 20 point game against Creighton, and can quietly put up points here and there as teams try to cover the bigger scoring machines. Lastly, if junior point guard Chris Wilson can get hot, he will sink the three with ease.
Outlook: Dubbed “The Holy War”, I would be surprised if Hagan Arena isn’t going to be crazy this Saturday night. A rivalry game, especially given the circumstance of what happened last year, and along with Villanova’s success this year; Kanacevic and the Hawks would love to get their revenge in front of their home crowd. It’ll be a hostile environment, from what I remember last year, the small band of St. Joe’s fans made their presence audibly known last year with their chants and cheers at the Pavilion. So just expect that exponentially bigger. After what was a beautiful first half against Penn, and a despicable second half; Jay Wright will look to have his team back on the right track. When you have your rival on the ropes, you need to knock them out. The Hawks are going to give it everything they got. Surely it was last year, but if it weren’t for Kanacevic’s antics to shift the tide of the game, St. Joe’s was winning. Villanova cannot afford a scoring drought like the last game. If Penn had more talent and athleticism, they could have easily done more with Villanova’s mistakes. St. Joe’s is much more talented and athletic. Villanova has a good thing going so far, and they can’t slip up against the Hawks. This is the Wildcats first real game away from home that’s played in enemy territory. With whatever lineup Jay Wright goes with, the standard or a small lineup, Villanova has to be able to limit Galloway and Roberts Jr. I’d imagine that Darrun Hilliard and James Bell will be the ones who mainly deal with Galloway. He doesn’t turn the ball over much but hopefully the press will change that. As for the inside, JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu need to anchor the floor. Roberts Jr. and Kanacevic are not as careful with the ball as Galloway, they need to give them a hard time in the paint. On paper, Villanova is the better team, putting aside a scoring drought and sloppy play, the Wildcats should win this one. St. Joe’s will give them a run for their money, but I see the Wildcats winning by around 10 or so points. Nothing too crazy, but definitely have some breathing room.