Penn’s AJ Brodeur admits he’s not in a sharing mood. Nobody can blame the 6-foot-8 junior for that.
The Quakers will meet St. Joseph’s at the Palestra on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN+), and will take the outright Big 5 title with a win.
Penn (11-6, 3-0 Big 5) clinched at least a tie for the City Series crown with Saturday’s 77-70 win at Temple. If St. Joseph’s beats Penn, then the Quakers and Villanova will share the Big 5 title.
“You can feel in the locker room, we want that title for ourselves,” Brodeur said earlier this week. “This whole week, we have been talking about how it is championship week already, which is kind of unusual to say in January.”
St. Joseph’s (9-10, 0-2) has a different outlook.
“We are not focused on the fact that they can be Big 5 champs [and] can be 4-0,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “We will not discuss any of that.”
What he will talk to his team about is what he feels is an extremely talented Penn squad.
“This is the same as an Atlantic 10 game to me in terms of familiarity," Martelli said. "If they were in the Atlantic 10, they would be in the top three or four teams, and we are trying to keep pushing to get there ... It is a great opportunity.”
Brodeur, who is averaging 15 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists to lead Penn in all three categories, is from Northborough, Mass. He said he didn’t know anything about the Big 5 when he first enrolled at Penn.
“It is definitely something I bought into, especially how much people care about it and how big it is to people,” he said. “Now all these people are out watching us trying to make history that has been dominated by Villanova recently. It is really cool to play in a game like this.”
Villanova has won the previous five Big 5 titles, and Penn’s 78-75 win over the Wildcats on Dec. 11 at the Palestra snapped a 25-game Big 5 win streak.
St. Joseph’s is coming off Wednesday’s 74-70 home win over Richmond. The Hawks were down to seven full scholarship players for the game as Anthony Longpré (concussion protocol) became the latest player to be sidelined, joining Lamarr Kimble (hand) and Pierfrancesco Oliva (knee).
Despite the injuries, St. Joseph’s poses a major threat, especially with 6-foot-7 redshirt sophomore Charlie Brown having scored 31 points and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds against Richmond for the first double-double of his career.
Brown is averaging a team-high 19.6 points.
Like Brodeur, Penn coach Steve Donahue is looking at this as a championship game, even though the Quakers have at least a share of the title already secured. Penn last won a Big 5 title in 2002 when the Quakers were 4-0.