Without looking at the calendar, one can fairly easily identify that it's March. With the top eight teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference descending on Atlantic City for the quarterfinals on Friday, A10Report.com has put together a primer to get you ready for the action.
No. 1 Temple vs. No. 8 UMass
The regular season champion Temple Owls figure to be in for a fight against the eighth-seeded Massachusetts Minutemen. The two teams needed overtime to decide the winner of the first meeting on Feb. 29 at the Liacouras Center. It'll be an interesting matchup as the Owls figure to use a distinct size advantage in the backcourt while UMass will counter by speeding up play and getting out in transition.
After being selected near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 preseason, the Minutemen finished 9-7 in conference, good enough to tie for fifth.
Following UMass' victory against Duquesne on Tuesday evening, the student section chanted "We Want Temple!". Will the Owls, who are a lock for the NCAA tournament, be able to stave off a determined UMass squad?
FOX/Scout.com correspondent Stephen Hewitt will have live coverage from this tilt!
No. 2 Saint Louis vs. No. 7 La Salle
Under head coach Rick Majerus, the Saint Louis Billikens have compiled a 24-6 record including a road victory at La Salle in February. Dr. John Giannini has his Explorers playing well, though, and has surpassed expectations this year. A guard-heavy lineup from La Salle tends to provide matchup problems for opponents, but also means that it is susceptible to rebounding issues. That's exactly what went wrong with the two teams played the first time. Dwayne Evans grabbed six offensive boards and SLU left Tom Gola Arena with a solid road victory.
Can the Explorers pull the upset and force the Billikens into a queasy wait on Selection Sunday? Found out at 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Dayton
The A-10 archrivals meet once again. Although the campuses are located just an hour away from one another, they'll travel to New Jersey for this postseason showdown. The Flyers dominated the Musketeers in the first meeting in Dayton with some big shots and great offensive execution. The Muskies avenged the defeat with an overtime win at Cintas.
Xavier has arguably the most talent in the conference and is capable of reeling off several victories in a row. Sitting squarely on the bubble, the Muskies figure to be hyped up for this one. UD, on the other hand, has a chance to play its way into the NCAA Tournament as well. This is a must-win for both teams in the Friday nightcap. How will the rubber match shake-out?
No. 4 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 5 Saint Joseph's
Just a week ago, we were treated to perhaps the best A-10 game of the season. In Olean, N.Y., St. Bonaventure downed the Hawks in a double overtime thriller. The Bonnies are led by Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson, and he poses a big challenge for Phil Martelli's bunch. SJU, however, is one of the most talented rosters in the conference. The Hawks placed five players on A-10 postseason honors lists, yet lost seven games in conference play. With Langston Galloway and Carl "Tay" Jones manning the three-point line and Halil Kanacevic and C.J. Aiken working the interior, this could be one of the most exciting games we see in Atlantic City.