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March 19, 2014

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Maschmeyer, Hawks ready for UConn

BUFFALO — There may not be any teams from Indiana in the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but there are plenty of Hoosier players taking part in the annual event.

That includes Jeffersonville graduate Evan Maschmeyer, whose Saint Joseph’s team is a No. 10 seed and will face seventh-seeded Connecticut in Thursday’s second-round matchup. The tipoff is scheduled for 6:55 p.m. from Buffalo. The game will be telecast on TBS.

With a win, the Hawks would face either Villanova (29-4) or Milwaukee (21-13) on Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

After two underachieving and disappointing seasons in Philadelphia, the Hawks overcame a slow start to the 2013-14 season to finish 24-9. Last weekend, Saint Joe’s knocked off Dayton 70-67, St. Bonaventure 67-48 and VCU 65-61 to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship and earn a berth in one of the country’s biggest events.

“That was a pretty incredible experience,” said Maschmeyer, who played one minute and went 0 for 1 in the Hawks’ tournament run. “Last year we were picked to win the conference and had a disappointing year. This year we were picked in the middle of the pack, so to come out and string [tournament wins] together was pretty special. We felt like we were the best team [in the A-10]. To come out and show it was a big deal.”

Connecticut has been hot itself. Behind point guard Shabazz Napier, the Huskies have won nine of their last 12 games and made the American Conference final before falling 71-61 to Louisville.

“They have a great point guard in Napier,” Maschmeyer said. “He’s an All-American candidate. He does it all. That’s obviously going to be a difficult matchup.”

Maschmeyer, who has 25 points and eight assists in his junior season, said the Hawks can’t wait to get on the floor Thursday.

“You have to put the A-10 championship behind you,” he said. “It’s not over yet. We have a chance to win some more games here.”

A true Hoosier at heart, Maschmeyer said he was surprised when he learned no teams from Indiana would be in the field with Saint Joe’s.

“To be honest, it’s disappointing,” he said. “Whenever anyone asks where I’m from and I say Indiana, they say, ‘Oh, basketball country.’ To have no team from Indiana, it’s like, what’s going on? Hopefully starting next year things will get back to normal.”

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