Saint Joseph's Hawks (19-6) vs. Duquesne Dukes (16-9)
9 p.m. EST
Hagan Arena - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CBS Sports Network
Saint Joseph's and Duquesne are tied for fifth in the Atlantic 10 and the loser of today's game will see their dwindling A-10 regular season title hopes fade to nothing.
Even the winner of today's game would have to win out and need serious help in the form of Dayton managing to drop all of their final four games. St. Joe's will get one more shot at Dayton on the road, but their conference title hopes would appear to be all but dead.
Nevertheless, St. Joseph's appears to be in pretty good standing for the 2014 NCAA Tournament - both Charlie Creme of ESPN and Steven Bell of the S-Factor have the Hawks somewhat firmly in their latest bracketology projections, though trending in opposite directions. What's currently keeping St. Joe's tournament hopes alive is a really strong strength of schedule (29th in the nation) and a RPI of 14. For some broader perspective, between the S-Factor, Massey, and Sagarin ratings the Hawks are rated no lower than 41.
Yet with four losses in what appears to be a two-bid conference already, the question is how many more non-Dayton losses they can even afford to keep their tournament hopes alive. And Duquesne is not exactly an easy opponent: of their four conference losses, one has been to conference-leading Dayton and two have been by just one possession, including a blown 22-point lead against second place Saint Bonaventure. If there's something that might portend a loss for the Hawks today, it's that Duquesne is a team that can force turnovers at a high rate (24%) while St. Joe's thrives on not turning the ball over (17%) - winning the turnover battle could go a long way to deciding the outcome of this game and pushing St. Joe's to the tournament bubble.
Another key for Duquesne is stopping reigning A-10 Player of the Week Erin Shields, who is riding a hot streak as described at A-10 blog Pickin' Splinters.
A senior guard from Drexel Hill, Pa., Shields averaged 25.5 points per game and shot 55.6 percent overall (15-of-27) and 61.1 percent from three-point range (11-of-18) in leading the Hawks to a 2-0 week. At home Wednesday versus La Salle, Shields tallied a game-high 22 points and added three rebounds and an assist. On Saturday facing Atlantic 10 newcomer George Mason, Shields posted a career-best 29 points, hitting 8-of-13 from the floor, including 7-of-11 from behind the arc and 6-of-7 from the foul line. She also added five assists and a steal in 36 minutes of play versus the Patriots.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard is fifth in the conference in scoring overall (16.3 ppg) and 3-point percentage (41.6%) while leading the conference in free throw percentage (94.9%), which makes her a somewhat difficult scorer to stop.
Duquesne comes in with two of the conference's top 10 scorers in senior forward Wumi Agunbiade and senior guard Raegan Moore, who leads the conference in 3-point shooting at 45.1%. But the Dukes come to Philadelphia today looking to undo a losing streak - after winning seven in a row, they've lost three straight - in addition to putting a damper on the Hawks' tournament hopes.