UConn is making their return to the postseason. This is the first year they are eligible and they want to send senior Shabazz Napier off with a successful NCAA Tournament run. Head coach Kevin Ollie doesn’t have any postseason coaching experience. How will that affect UConn in the first round?
St. Joseph’s haven’t appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2008. Coach Phil Martelli has been there the head coach since 1995, but hasn’t seen much success since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were in the Hawks backcourt. Can Martelli spark St. Joseph’s to pull off a first-round upset?
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UConn looks to have rebounded after they were hit with NCAA sanctions and the retirement of longtime coach Jim Calhoun. The Huskies were eligible once again to play in the postseason and head coach Kevin Ollie lead them to a #7 seed. UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier is usually the best player on the court during any game. He had put up similar numbers as last year and he should be playing in the NBA next season. Their résumé looks good with wins over Memphis (twice), Cincinnati (twice) and Florida.
St. Joseph’s has been on a pretty nice run. They finished the season going 9-2 including winning the Atlantic 10 conference tournament. As competitive as the A-10 was this season, it’s an impressive feat. They are efficient with the ball and wait for a good shot. Langston Galloway shoots 43% from behind that arc and forwards, Ronald Roberts Jr. and Halil Kanacevic are the best rebounding duo in the A-10.
Connecticut has an impressive résumé and have won close games, but I don’t like how they matchup with St. Joseph’s. UConn runs a lot of isolation plays through Napier, but you need to move the ball around to penetrate St. Joe’s defense. It will be a close game, but St. Joseph’s will pull out the victory.
Prediction: #11 St. Joseph’s Hawks
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.