Vegas Line: Saint Louis -1
Matchup To Watch: Brian Conklin vs. Halil Kanacevic
Matt Gifford, the Publisher over at HawkHillHardwood.com, said that Kanacevic is supremely talented but allows his temper to get the best of him. He averages 3.6 fouls in just 26 minutes per game, and according to Gifford, Kanacevic is a "hothead".
Why is this important? Because Conklin is very good at getting under people's skin. He will bang down low with Kanacevic, and if SLU is able to get the Hofstra transfer into foul trouble, it may very well be difficult for the Hawks to compete.
X-Factor: Jordair Jett.
A muscular sophomore guard, Jett has shown the ability to lock up on bigger defenders this year. He will face a tough task against Langston Galloway. Galloway, a 6-foot-2 guard, is one of the best scorers in the Atlantic 10 Conference. If he goes off, the Billikens will be hard-pressed to get a road 'W'.
The Other Guys: The point guard matchup in this game will be a lot of fun to track. Kwamain Mitchell and Carl "Tay" Jones are two of the finest in the league. Also, outside of Kentucky freshman sensation, C.J. Aiken is arguably the best shot blocker in the country. The 6-foot-9 sophomore swats four shots a game, and will likely be a pest for the Billikens in the paint. Daryus Quarles may be the Hawks' weak link. According to Gifford, he can't put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, and he's shooting just 37 percent from the field this season. Forward Dwayne Evans might be able to take the 184-pounder into the block and score efficiently.
Prediction: SLU 67, St. Joe's 62. This is a huge week for both teams. The Billikens are in Philadelphia all week, and the Hawks get SLU and UMass, who are both near the top of the A-10 table. As mentioned earlier in the preview, Kanacevic is extremely foul prone. If I were to pick anyone to get under somebody's skin, it would be Conklin. He acts, he fights, he jaws. I think Halil will get out of his element and Jett will be effective on the defensive end against an often inconsistent Galloway.