Who: Saint Joseph’s (19-7, 9-3 A-10) vs. Dayton (19-8, 7-5 A-10)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Hagan Arena
TV / Radio: CBS Sports Net / CBS Sports Radio 610
By JAMES HILL
Joe Lunardi has Saint Joseph’s as an 11 seed in his latest NCAA Tournament projection, two spots above those teams slated for the First Round. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Hawks in as a 10 seed, along with a bubble designation next to the team’s name. Explorertown Bracketology’s Lou Caruso places the Hawks in the field as a 10 seed as well.
Meanwhile, Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli remains unamused.
“I only have energy for one thing, and that’s to play better basketball tomorrow than we did today,” he said following St. Joe’s drubbing of Fordham on Saturday.
The Hawks certainly took care of business Saturday afternoon, seeing their lead balloon to 29 points behind a record-setting day from Langston Galloway before the coach called off the dogs. The win was St. Joe’s 15th in their last 18 tries and moved the Hawks to second place in the standings of a conference expected to receive at least four bids to the Big Dance.
You might think this would excite a team and a coach who has gone dancing once in the last 10 years, and not since 2008. But not this St. Joe’s team.
“Did you see what happened last night? Boise State lost,” Martelli stated with feigned excitement. “Who cares? Just keep winning games.”
The Hawks will look to do just that when they return to action Tuesday night against the Dayton Flyers. This game will mark the second meeting of the season for the two teams. The first matchup in Dayton went to St. Joe’s, as Galloway banked in a step-back three in the closing seconds to lift the Hawks to the win.
Since that game, the Flyers have been on a tear. Dayton has won six straight games since that last-second loss and will try to exact revenge at Hagan Arena. A win over the Hawks would also provide Dayton with a quality road win, as five of those six games in their winning streak came against teams in the bottom half of the Atlantic 10 standings.
The Hawks, meanwhile, need a strong finish in order to solidify their Tournament odds and stay out of a First Round game. Winning at home would be a good start. Saint Joseph’s remaining schedule –home dates with Dayton and La Salle, and road trips to St. Bonaventure and George Washington – does the Hawks no favor.
But, still, you won’t see Martelli worry about it.
“[Philadelphia Eagles’ coach] Chip Kelly said his approach was he kept his head down, and they kept going,” he said. “And then on December 31 they looked up and they were in the playoffs.
“If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.”
James Hill covers Saint Joseph’s basketball for Philahoops. Reach him at [email protected], on Twitter @jrhill17, or leave a comment below.