NCAA basketball on Thursday night and we will see the St Joes Hawks take on the Connecticut Huskies in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, which is being played at First Niagara Arena in Buffalo, New York. The game has a start time of 6:55 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on TBS. Vegas odds have the Huskies listed as 5.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 130.5.
Stat Pack: The Connecticut Huskies come in with an at-large bid after finishing the regular season at 26-8 overall. This Huskies did make it to the AAC Title game, but lost to Louisville by a score of 71-61. The Huskies average a decent 71.9 ppg (146th) on 44.9% shooting (140th). They rank 31st in 3 pt shooting (38.7%) and 10th in free throw shooting (76.1%). Shabazz Napier is the leader of this team as he averages 17.4 ppg, while also leading the team in assists (4.9) and rebounding (5.9). Just 5 players on the team average 6.5 ppg or more, so this is not a very deep team. DeAndre Daniels (12.5 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (11.8 ppg) are the only other DD scorers on the team. Defensively this is a very solid team that ranks 32 nd in points allowed (63.1 ppg) and 10th in defensive FG% (38.7%).
St Joe's took out Dayton, St Bonaventure and VCU to win the Atlantic 10 tournament and gain the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks now stand at 24-9 on the year and have won 9 of their last 11 games. The Hawks have averaged just 71.3 ppg on the year, but this is a good shooting team that ranks 51st in shooting overall (46.9%) and 45th in 3 point shooting (38.0%). The offense is led by Langston Galloway, who averages 17.5 ppg, while Ronald Roberts is 2nd at 14.4 ppg and DeAndre Bembry is 3rd at 12.0 ppg. Halil Kanacevic is 4th at 10.7 ppg, while leading the team in rebounding at 8.8 rpg. The defense for the Hawks is solid as they allow just 66.9 ppg (92nd) on 41.8% shooting (86th).
Pick: Going with the Hawks in this one. St Joes is playing really well and riding some momentum after winning the A-10 tournament. The Huskies are also playing well right now but this isn't a blow you out type of team as evidenced by a recent 6 point win over Rutgers and a 5 point win over USF. St Joes isn't a team that's likely to lose by big margins and they have the defense to shut down an inconsistent UConn offense. I look for this game to come right down to the wire and wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks pulled the outright upset.
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