No team in the Schuylkill 16 poll has been criticized more by the commenters on this blog than St. Joe's.
But as Dick Jerardi pointed out in his recap of the St. Joe's-Charlotte game, the Hawks have not lost since the calendar turned to 2009. They are now on a four-game winning streak: at Ball State, Rhode Island, at St. Bonaventure (which is way better than it's been in a very long time) and Charlotte.
After losses at the Palestra to Siena and Drexel at the end of December, is this change we can believe from Phil Martelli's team?
We know this much: in those four wins, Ahmad Nivins scored 19, 28, 16 and 25 points. In the last three, he recorded double-doubles with 10 or more rebounds.
At least for this week, though, it was not enough to move St. Joe's ahead of Penn State and into third place in the Schuylkill 16 rankings. The Hawks' schedule this week has them at home against Duquesne and Penn, neither of which offer as much sizzle as Penn State's home games against Michigan and Iowa.
Then again, as with politics, a week is a long time in college basketball.
Here are this week's poll results:
1. Villanova, 10 points (10 first-place votes)
2. Temple, 25 points
- "Not a bad loss for the Owls, but they'll have to win a few of those that they aren't supposed to. Interesting to see Craig Williams get more minutes at UMass than Sergio Olmos did in both games this week." (Josh Wheeling)
- "Tough - but understandable - loss at UMass. Will need to make a serious conference statement sooner rather than later to get into the NCAA discussion." (Marco Anskis)
I think there's still time, but the Owls have two straight home games before a big trip to Rhode Island on the 28th. That one would certainly fit the bill.
3. Penn State, 31 points
- "Still awaiting my annual kick in the groin from Penn State." (Tim AumAn)
There's some hope from the electorate.
4. Saint Joseph's, 39 points
5. La Salle, 51 points
- "One of two away to Charlotte and Xavier ain't bad." (Josh Wheeling)
6. Drexel, 59 points
- "After losing six out of seven earlier this season, Drexel has won six out of eight with Pomeroy predicting they'll go 8-3 the rest of the way. Though even then they'd probably be lucky enough to get an NIT spot." (Zach Klitzman)
They've certainly made their point to the pre-season poll voters, haven't they?
7. Rutgers, 68 points
8. Lehigh, 89 points
- "Lehigh might have the second-best overall record in the Patriot League, but if they want to win the league they're going to have to beat the bad teams in the league. Like rival Lafayette on Saturday." (Zach Klitzman)
9. Rider, 91 points
- "After beating the Canisius Golden Griffins, when will Rider face the Slytherins?" (Zach Klitzman)
Alas, we aren't doing a quidditch poll this year.
10. Delaware, 93 points
- "Joe Biden's boys will be tested by Drexel on Tuesday." (Rob Falcone)
Okay, I'm putting this out there on the record. Ed Rendell needs to get Barack Obama into the Palestra to watch a game at some point during his administration. Period.
11. Penn, 110 points
- "Man, that loss to Temple was painful to watch. Hard to see how the Quakers avoid laying another egg in the Big 5 this year." (Josh Wheeling)
- "Raise your hand if you thought the Quakers were going to lose to NJIT?" (Marco Anskis)
- "My top five includes La Salle, St. Joe's, Temple and Villanova. Hmmm, what seems to be missing from this group?" (Zach Klitzman)
It's not Penn State, is it?
12. Lafayette, 120 points
- "Lafayette and Bucknell get to battle it out Wednesday to determine who isn't the third worst team in the S-16." (Zach Klitzman)
13. Princeton, 131 points
14. Bucknell, 141 points
15. Monmouth, 144 points
- "I never thought the Hawks would move out of the No. 14 hole, but they have been playing some good ball." (Marco Anskis)
- "Monmouth went undefeated this past week! (Okay, it only played one game, but still.)" (Zach Klitzman)
If he'd drop the second sentence, he'd have a future as a campaign manager.
16. Delaware State, 158 points
The above political jokes are, of course, meant in good fun. But I know from our research that a lot of the readers who read college sports news on Philly.com also read our politics stories. So I think I can safely invite all of you to check out our extensive live coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration.
In addition to live blogging throughout the day, we'll have live video of the ceremony, the parade and the scene on the Mall as the big crowd in D.C. celebrates this historic event.
It should be quite a day no matter your political affiliation.