At 19-4 overall, St. Joe’s has been putting together a very impressive season. The Hawks have certainly overachieved the mark of what most thought possible for them going into this year. They currently sit at 8-2 in the A-10 which is good enough for 3rd in the conference. While most teams with a record like this would be considered locks for the NCAA tournament, that unfortunately is not the case for St. Joe’s. As of now, they find themselves on the bubble. Just a few weeks remain in the regular season and if they want to earn a tournament bid, a couple more things must happen.
If the season ended today, anything could happen to St. Joe’s. While ESPN has them as an 11 seed, CBS Sports believes they would be one of the first four out. NBC Sports and SI.com both have the Hawks as one of the last four teams to make the tournament. Thankfully, much basketball remains to be played, giving St. Joe’s a chance to prove itself even more. That starts tonight as the Hawks travel on the road to take on George Washington. The Colonials just picked up a huge road win at VCU to catapult themselves back into the tournament picture. St. Joe’s hopes to do the exact same. While a win would be huge, a loss does not entirely eliminate them. They get to play #19 Dayton at home a week from today which could turn out to be the biggest game of their season. Beating George Washington or Dayton would definitely show up as a quality win and impress the committee come Selection Sunday. A win against either team should be enough to get the Hawks off the bubble and safely into the tournament assuming nothing crazy happens.
Another thing the Hawks must do is avoid bad losses. They have done an outstanding job of the so far this year, but they need to finish without any. With games remaining against LaSalle, UMASS, and Saint Louis, St. Joe’s must make sure they do not step on any of these land mines. A loss to any one of these three, and the Hawks’ tournament hopes could come to a crashing halt.
How does a 19-4 team find itself heavily on the bubble anyway? Unfortunately for St. Joe’s, it lies in lack of quality wins. Their non-conference schedule was tough, but was it tough enough? While they did challenged themselves against newly #1 Villanova and 15-8 Florida, the Hawks came up short in both those games. This is why beating either GW or Dayton seems like a must for St. Joes. If they want to make the tournament, the Hawks have to find a way to pick up a quality win and can ill afford to suffer a bad loss for the remainder of the season. Hopefully, the Hawks finish this season strong and find their way into the tournament. With star players like Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry, it is very reasonable to expect St. Joe’s to do just that.