Preview: @ St Bonaventure

The Dukes head north to play the 108th installment of their series with St Bonaventure. This may be the most meaningful encounter between these two teams in some time. Not only is seeding in the A10 tournament at stake, both teams chances for the NCAA sanctioned post season may hinge on the outcome of this afternoon's game.

St. Bonaventure (12-9, 5-4) is coming off a loss at UMass where the Bonnies took a 3 point lead to halftime only to lose by 9. Their current RPI is 93, but their strength of schedule is 103rd. The Bonnies still do not have a win against any teams currently in the top 7 of the A-10 and their best wins came against Dayton and @Buffalo. St. Bonaventure need to pad their resume. A loss today would likely send them out of the top 100 in RPI and put their backs against the wall. Duquesne (14-9, 5-4) is in slightly better shape, but stand a chance to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the middle of the A-10. At stake for the Dukes is the chance for another nice win away from the AJP center to go with Akron, George Mason and Dayton, and a decisive tie breaker with the Bonnies in the A-10 standing. The Dukes would take an advantage over not only the Bonnies if they tied them, but an edge should they and the Bonnies finish in a 3 way tie.  The Dukes come into today RPI 79, but would substantially improve that with a win. In order to make the NIT without going to the A-10 finals, Duquesne will likely need to win at least one of three against St Bonaventure, Temple and St Louis while holding serve with the rest of the schedule where they should be favored. Today seems their best chance. While the dream won't be over for the Dukes if they lose, it will be significantly damaged.

St Bonaventure comes in with the same flaws they had last time around. They still do not have a true point guard and will likely have trouble with Duquesne's pressure. Andrew Nicholson has fouled out of 3 of the last 4 for the Bonnies including a home game against Richmond. Da'Quan Cook has also been getting into foul trouble. Duquesne will need to find a way to match up against Nicholson without fouling right back. The best way to do this might be to go right at he and Cook and put them on the bench with fouls. Andre Marhold performed admirable against Nicholson in the second half the first times these teams met at the AJP, but expecting a repeat performance would be asking a lot. If the Dukes are losing with 5 minutes left, the game is probably over as the Bonnies are one of the best FT shooting teams in the country. The Dukes will need to take control of the game in the second half as they did in Pittsburgh.

All in all, I like the Dukes chances better than a lot of people might, but I expect them to come up short. I predicted an easy sweep for the Bonnies coming into the season so I'm happy with a split. This game means more to the Bonnies than it does the Dukes though it's meaningful for both. I'll go Bonnies by 3.

Other Notes: Eric Evan needs 9 points to get to 1000 on his career.