Hawks take two of three in critical homestand

Phil Martelli's Saint Joseph's Hawks entered this past week at 14-6 with home games against UMass, Saint Louis, and VCU on the docket. The Hawks managed to take two of the three, knocking off a ranked UMass team and Shaka Smart's VCU Rams on consecutive Saturdays.

St. Joe's bounced back from Wednesday's deflating 65-49 home defeat to St. Louis in a big way on Saturday night. Senior Langston Galloway and freshman DeAndre Bembry combined to shoot 16-27 from the field for 42 points as the Hawks defeated VCU 69-62 Saturday night at Hagan Arena.

Galloway and Bembry were the only two Hawks in double-digits, but Ron Roberts chipped in 9 points and 9 rebounds and Halil Kanacevic had 7 points, 7 assists, and 10 rebounds.

With the win, the Hawks improved to 16-7 on the year, and just as importantly, 6-3 in the Atlantic 10. St. Joe's, at 6-3, is tied for 4th place in the league with UMass. Both the Hawks and Minutemen are just a game behind George Washington and VCU, who sit at 7-2.

With two wins against top-tier Atlantic 10 programs this week, the Hawks have propelled themselves fully into the NCAA tournament discussion. St. Joe's is now a consensus top-50 RPI team, at 46 according to RPIForecast, 44 according to ESPN, and 46 according to RealTimeRPI.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi posted his updated Bracketology report this morning and had the Hawks as one of his first four teams out of the tournament. USA Today's Shelby Mast had the Hawks as one of the final five teams into the field. Yahoo's Brad Evans projects the field by seed, and he also had the Hawks in the tournament as of Monday morning, sneaking in as an 11-seed.

Now, all of this speculation is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Looking at the collection of mock brackets, however, one thing is apparent. With their two top-50 RPI wins this week, the Hawks have fully played themselves back into the discussion.

The Hawks have the week off before traveling to La Salle for a Saturday morning contest this weekend. La Salle presents an opportunity for a top-100 road win for the Hawks. The Explorers have lost 5 of their last 6, including a devastating 65-63 home loss on Saturday to St. Louis. While the Explorers have failed to live up to expectations this season, that game still presents a challenge for the Hawks on the road.

With Saint Joseph's off until Saturday, this will be a week to get new recruiting information up on the site. Among other things, I will be attending Friday night's Life Center Academy-St. Anthony's game, which features three 2015 Hawk targets in Traci Carter, Malik Ellison, and Markis McDuffie.

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