The Massachusetts Minutemen will look to go for two wins in a row after an exciting victory on Saturday. The Saint Joesphs Hawks host UMass on Wednesday at 7PM. Both teams are a little down from their preseason expectations but who will come out on top? Let's break down St. Joe's.
Record: 7-9 (1-4)
The Hawks have played an average non-conference schedule with an RPI rank of 135 and a strength of schedule of 157. Lately St. Joe's has struggled, losing five of their last six games. After blowing out Marist on the road, the Hawks lost their next four including two four point losses (to Denver and George Washington) and a three point loss to Duquesne Dukes. Both teams have only played one common game which was a loss for both against St. Bonaventure.
Players to watch:
Only two players average scoring in double figures for St. Joe's. DeAndre Bembry leads all players with 16.6 per game. The 6-6 sophomore also leads the Hawks in almost every other important category: rebounds (6.6), assists (2.9), steals (1.8), and blocks (1.1). He also plays almost the entire game and everything seems to flow through him. To say shutting him down is key would be an understatement. He's coming off an impressive 27 point performance against the Bonnies in which he was 6-9 from behind the arc.
The Hawks are a fairly young team with only two seniors on roster and only one getting any real playing time. That lone senior is Chris Walker. The 6-3 guard is second on the team in minutes played with 32.3. He's second in assists with 2.7 and is the fourth scoring option with 8.2 per game.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the scoring discrepancy of the two squads. St. Joe's averages just 62.6 as a team, good for 295th in the nation. UMass on the other hand scores 71.4 a contest and ranks just inside the top 100. However, over the last four games the Hawks have outscored UMass on an average of 2.8 points per game in conference play.
UMass has the size advantage by a pretty good margin. St. Joe's only has two players over 6-6 that play significant minutes and no player comes close to matching the size of big daddy Cady Lalanne. Look for Lalanne to get his points early as he bullies his way through the Hawks interior defense. Eventually they should start to double and triple him which will open up the perimeter game. Trey Davis and Donte Clark will need to be on their best three pointer behavior as they should get ample opportunities. Also Maxie Esho should be able to build off his explosive performance last game as he should prove another matchup conundrum for St. Joe's.
While St. Joe's has some nice pieces, UMass is the better team. The Minutemen have seemed pretty comfortable on the road in A-10 play and I don't see why that wouldn't continue. If Lalanne and Esho both are in deep foul trouble than the Minutemen will be in trouble but that is a long shot. I think UMass will take control early and cruise to a relatively easy 75-63 win.