The Saint Joseph’s Hawks released their non-conference schedule for the 2016-17 season this past week, and the 2016 A-10 Tournament Champions are going to have quite a few tough tests before reaching conference play. Though the Hawks will be without leading scorers Isaiah Miles and DeAndre’ Bembry this coming season, they’ll still have a number of weapons, including head coach Phil Martelli, who can get the job done. Let’s take a look at each of Saint Joseph’s matchups individually.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Toledo, Saturday, November 12th
The Hawks will begin the 2016-17 season with a home game against the Toledo Rockets. Toledo is coming off a 17-15 season in the MAC. The Rockets lose leading scorer and rebounder Nathan Boothe (19.3 and 9.0) but will return pretty much everyone else. Colorado transfer Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Marquette transfer Steve Taylor Jr. will be great additions to this squad, and Toledo should be one of the better teams in the MAC next season. Saint Joseph’s should still be a solid favorite at home, but the Rockets will be looking to upset.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Columbia, Monday, November 14th
After just one day of rest, the Hawks will have to get ready for their next home opponent, the Columbia Lions. One of a handful of teams to go out with a win last season, Columbia won the 2016 CollegeInsiders.com Tournamet over UC Irvine and will look to be a solid contender in the Ivy League next season. Though this team will lose quite a few seniors, it still has an impressive array of rising seniors that will help get the job done. The Hawks narrowly escaped Columbia 80-78 last season.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Loyola-Chicago (Paradise Jam), Friday, November 18th
The Hawks will be playing in the 2016 Paradise Jam, and will have a first round battle with Loyola-Chicago. Though this team finished 15-17 last season, it did manage to beat a solid Creighton team and an NCAA Tournament team in Northern Iowa twice. Though this won’t be a “gimme” game for the Hawks, I’d expect them to be able to handle the Ramblers and advance to the Championship game.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Ole Miss/Oral Roberts (Paradise Jam), Saturday, November 19th or Sunday, November 20th
Depending on the outcome of the first game in this year’s Paradise Jam, the Hawks will play either Ole Miss or Oral Roberts in the 2nd round. Oral Roberts will have some work to do if it wants to beat Ole Miss, but it still returns a lot of talent from last season. The Rebels will miss leading scorer Stefan Moody (23.6 PPG), but Sebastian Saiz will be back for his senior season. Saint Joseph’s could get a very intriguing matchup against Ole Miss if both teams make it to the 2nd round.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Creighton/NC State/Washington St/Montana (Paradise Jam), Monday, November 21st
Depending on how the first two rounds of this tournament go, the Hawks could be facing any of these four teams in the third round. I’d expect the Creighton Jays to be the favorites to win this entire tournament, especially with incoming transfer Marcus Foster. That being said, NC State should be a solid team once again, and the Wolf Pack could make a run to the Championship as well. If the Hawks could find a way to win this tournament in St. Thomas, it’d be a huge boost to their NCAA Tournament resume.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Temple, Wednesday, November 30th
After a well-deserved break from basketball, the Hawks will return home and face an injured Temple Owls team. Though the Owls were the American Conference Champions in the 2015-16 season, things could be different with current injuries threatening Temple’s chances of competing for another title. This should be an exciting rivalry game between two Philly teams that are both usually pretty good. I’d expect Saint Joseph’s to have the slight edge in this game, but if the Owls get healthy, they could win on the road.
- Saint Joseph’s @ Villanova, Saturday, December 3rd
The 2016 NCAA Tournament Champions will be back, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make another magical postseason run. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will both be leading this team next year, and this is going to be a very hard matchup for the Hawks. Villanova beat Saint Joseph’s 86-72 in Hawk Hill last season, but I’d expect this year’s outcome to be even more lopsided. Villanova is going to be good, and regardless of the outcome, this will be a great way for the Hawks to get some experience before conference play.
- Saint Joseph’s @ Drexel, Sunday, December 11th
Drexel was atrocious last season, but that didn’t stop the Dragons from almost taking down Saint Joseph’s in the Hawks’ home opener. Though Saint Joseph’s escaped with an 82-81 victory, it was definitely a scare for this team. The Dragons won just 6 games last season, and I wouldn’t expect them to be too much better this year. I’m sure they’ll be playing with a chip on their shoulder against their Philly rivals this season, and the game will be at Drexel. Saint Joseph’s has to come out of this one with a win.
- Saint Joseph’s @ Princeton, Wednesday, December 14th
Saint Joseph’s game at Princeton will be a return game for a home-and-home series that began last season. The Hawks took down the Tigers 62-50 in Hawk Hill, but Princeton will return all 5 of its starters from last year. I could see Princeton having what it takes to pull the upset here, given that the game is being played in New Jersey. The Hawks have the talent to compete, but the Tigers could be starting 5 seniors next season.
- Saint Joseph’s @ Illinois State, Sunday, December 18th
Another return game in a home-and-home series, Saint Joseph’s will travel to play Illinois State next season. The Redbirds are coming off an 18-14 season, but they were able to notch some big wins at home. Taking down Wichita St. and Northern Iowa, Illinois State was 11-3 at home last season. The Hawks were road warriors last season, but Redbird Arena is never an easy place to play. Illinois State keeps 3 double digit scorers from last season. In addition, it’ll bring in talented transfers that include Saint Louis’ Milik Yarbrough. Again, this is a game you cannot sleep on if you are Saint Joseph’s.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Lafayette, Wednesday, December 21st
This should be a tune-up game for the Hawks. The Leopards were horrible last season, winning just 6 games overall and 3 in conference play. There should be no way that Saint Joseph’s drops a home game to a team like this, but stranger things have happened. Look for the Hawks to roll through this team.
- Saint Joseph’s vs. Penn (Palestra), Saturday, January 21st
In the middle of conference play the Hawks will take a break from the A-10 and face Penn in the historic game at the Palestra. The Hawks will be facing their 3rd Ivy League team in the Quakers, and this could be one of the easier ones to beat. Saint Joseph’s took down Penn 75-60 last season, and Penn shouldn’t be a ton better this season, though they do have some talented sophomores on the rise. I’d expect the Hawks to get the win at the Palestra.