Conference play preview

On Wednesday night, Saint Joseph's will begin conference play with a road game at Duquesne. The Hawks enter Atlantic 10 play at 10-4.

In addition to their sixteen league games, the Hawks also have a non-conference game remaining against Big 5 opponent Penn on January 21st. In league play, the Hawks play UMass, Temple, and Richmond twice.

The Hawks are currently 7-0 at home, 1-3 on the road, and 2-1 on a neutral court. Due to their success at home and struggles on the road to date, it is important to focus on who the Hawks play where this season. Saint Joseph's plays away at Duquesne, UMass, Xavier, Temple, Richmond, Rhode Island, George Washington, and Saint Bonaventure. They have Charlotte, Fordham, Dayton, Saint Louis, UMass, Richmond, and Temple at home. The Hawks play La Salle at the Palestra in a neutral-court contest.

Currently, at 10-4, Saint Joseph's has an RPI of 33 according to the CBS Sports RPI tracker. Despite their loss on New Year's Eve at Harvard, the Hawks can certainly play themselves into the conversation for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. How exactly can they do that? That is a conversation that will be ongoing throughout the season.

At the moment, many prognosticators seem to think that the Atlantic 10 is a conference that could earn up to four bids. Despite their recent struggles, which can not be ignored, Xavier is still a team that seems bound for March Madness. Saint Louis is another team that seems destined for a tournament bid. According to CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman, both Temple and Saint Joseph's are also schools that could be in that mix on Selection Sunday.

If Saint Joseph's can finish in the top four in the Atlantic 10 regular season standings, they not only earn a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament, but could also put themselves in a good spot for a run at the championship as well as an at-large bid.

A 10-6 Atlantic 10 record, and 21-10 regular season record, could put the Hawks in a position where a win or two in the Atlantic 10 tournament could secure a bid. An 11-5 record in conference play would make things even easier, and would likely require just a single win in the A10 tournament.

To date, the Hawks have been a perfect 7-0 at home this year. They have exactly 7 true home games remaining, with the two toughest home games being Temple and Saint Louis. If the Hawks can get one of those two games, and then win 4 of the other 5, they would have a 5-2 home record in conference play.

On the road, Saint Joseph's has only won once, at Western Kentucky in the season opener. The Hawks have tough road games at Temple and Xavier. If the Hawks can go even 4-4 in true road games, that would bring their record to 9-6 in Atlantic 10 conference play, with only the Palestra game against La Salle remaining. Saint Joseph's best chances for wins on the road come against Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond, Rhode Island, and Saint Bonaventure. Temple, Xavier, and UMass are likely to be the Hawks' three toughest road games.

Despite frustratingly close road losses at Iona and Harvard, Saint Joseph's is still certainly in the hunt for a possible tournament bid. Each game will present the team with a new opportunity. It all begins Wednesday at Duquesne.

A preview of that game will be up tomorrow. News broke this afternoon that Duquesne senior B.J. Monteiro will sit out the game. Monteiro was averaging 15 points and just under 6 rebounds a game for the Dukes. In addition to being second on the team in scoring, he was also second on the team in minutes per game. A more detailed preview will be up tomorrow.

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