WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's basketball program continues to make history, climbing three more spots to 14th in this week's D3Hoops.com Top 25 National Poll, which was released Monday. The Blue Jays broke into the Top-25 for the first time in program history during week 10 of the national poll, and have continued to climb in week 11, 12 and now 13, as the team heads to the NCAA Tournament for the first time Friday afternoon.
D3Hoops.com Top 25 Poll
The Blue Jays, under the direction of Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun, have won their last 25 games of the season, and sit at 26-2 overall. The streak is the second-longest in Division III, behind only Swarthmore and Yeshiva (26). Swarthmore is ranked No. 1 in the Top-25, while Yeshiva sits just ahead of the Blue Jays at No. 13.
Saint Joseph, in just its second season fielding a men's basketball team, won its first Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship in an unforgettable 88-84 win over in-state rival and defending champion, Albertus Magnus on March 1. USJ clinched the 2019-20 GNAC regular-season title and home-court throughout the postseason tournament with a 95-83 road win over Emmanuel on February 15. The Blue Jays finished 11-0 in conference play, joining Albertus Magnus in 2012 (18-0) and 2015 (18-0) as the only teams in GNAC Men's Basketball history to go undefeated in league play. Sophomore guard Jaecee Martin (Hartford, Conn.) won the 2019-20 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, and was All-GNAC First Team. Freshman guard Taelon Martin (Springfield, Mass.) won the GNAC Rookie of the Year. Sophomore guard Delshawn Jackson Jr. (Hartford, Conn.), the MVP of the 2019-20 GNAC Tournament, also made All-GNAC First Team. Junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) earned second team honors for the Blue Jays, while sophomore forward Ryan O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) made the GNAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
In non-conference action, USJ most notably went 3-1 this season against New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) opponents, picking up wins over Trinity College, Bates College, and Williams College. Its lone NESCAC loss - and last loss to date - was at Tufts University on November 23, more than three months ago. Tufts was previously in the Top-25 for multiple weeks, and has returned to the rankings at the No. 20 spot this week.
The Blue Jays rank in the top-five in Division III in numerous statistical categories. They lead the nation in scoring margin (winning by an average of over 19 points per game), are second in field-goal percentage (shooting it at nearly 52% from the field), and are third in rebound margin (grabbing 11 rebounds more per game than opponents). Additionally, junior forward Jordan Powell (Middletown, Conn.) is second in the nation in field goal-percentage at over 70% from the floor, right behind Trenton Krueger of Bethany Lutheran. Powell and Krueger have tied and swapped the lead multiple times.
The D3hoops.com Top-25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, sports information directors, and media members from across the country and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis. Other Northeast region schools in the National Top 25 include No. 12 Colby, No. 17 Springfield, and No. 21 Middlebury. Springfield plays host to the 'pod' the Blue Jays are in for the NCAA Tournament. A win for USJ in the first round could lead to a head-to-head matchup with the Pride in the second round, should Springfield defeat SUNY Canton. A total of 416 schools, representing 43 separate conferences, were eligible for the 64-team NCAA Division III National Tournament.
USJ will compete in the Regional Round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time, playing its opening round game against Hobart College on Friday, March 6 at 5:00 p.m., inside Blake Arena, on the campus of Springfield College, in Springfield, Mass.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased on game day (Friday) at the entrance of Blake Arena. USJ students, faculty, staff, and fans can pre-register for the game and reserve a ticket today by clicking here. Pre-registering will not provide you with a free ticket, but will serve as an RSVP to guarantee you a seat at the game. Fans will need to pay in cash for their ticket upon entry to Blake Arena.