Conference: Atlantic 10
Record: 27-7 (13-5)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 8 (West)
How they got to the Big Dance
Saint Joseph’s played a solid non-conference schedule, racking up some quality wins against Princeton, at Temple and against Mid-American Conference Champions Buffalo. Their non-conference schedule also included an 86-72 loss to No. 3 Villanova and a 74-63 loss to Florida. The bulk of SJU’s strong resume comes from their conference schedule, however. The three other tournament-worthy teams from the A-10 are Dayton, St. Bonaventure, and VCU. Interestingly enough, the Hawks did not perform well against these teams in the regular season, losing three of the four games they played against them. The lone win came against then No. 15 Dayton in a 79-70 victory at home. Things turned around for SJU in the conference tournament. In the quarterfinals, Saint Joseph’s beat No. 5 seed George Washington 86-80. They followed that up with an 82-79 victory against No. 1 seed Dayton in the semifinals. In the conference title game, SJU avenged their 85-82 loss earlier in the season to VCU with a dominant 87-74 victory over the No. 2 seed. This will be their first NCAA tournament appearance since their 2014 first round overtime loss to eventual champion UConn.
Why they will be a Cinderella team
SJU is a high scoring team. While their offense isn’t great, it’s enough to get the job done in the NCAA tournament. They rank 59th in the country with 77.3 points scored per game and win by an average margin of 7.5 points, which ranks 45th in the NCAA. They shoot reasonably from the floor with a 44.9 percent field goal percentage. They rebound and defend well, too. They are 55th in the country with 38.7 total rebounds per game, while limiting opposing teams’ second chances points by pulling in a 25th ranked 26.1 defensive boards per game. SJU’s defense does not allow teams to shoot a high percentage, limiting opposing offenses to a low 31.2 percent clip from downtown and 41.5 percent from the field.
Why they won’t be a Cinderella team
While there isn’t a lot that Saint Joseph’s does poorly, there also isn’t a lot that they do extremely well either. Their field goal percentage of 44.9 percent ranks 111th in the NCAA and they also allow 69.8 points per game, which is 120th in the country. They also pull in only 8.3 offensive rebounds per game, which is 243rd in the country, so many of their possessions will be one-and-done. A good indicator of whether or not a team can be a Cinderella is how many turnovers they force, something this Hawks team does not do particularly well. They are ranked 269th in the NCAA with 11.5 turnovers per game.
Player to watch – F Isaiah Miles
The 6-foot-7 senior emerged this year as one of SJU’s most valuable players. He scores 18.2 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting from the floor. He can also shoot from beyond the arc, converting 38.9 percent of his 3-pointers. The senior has not scored fewer than 10 points in any game this season and came up huge in the A-10 tournament, scoring 26 points in both the semifinal against Dayton and in the title game against VCU. He is a great asset for the Hawks from the free-throw line, as well, shooting 88.1 percent. SJU can also count on him to pull in a lot of rebounds.
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