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Here to Stay

by Austin Basler

(Photo courtesy of STLtoday.com)

After two tough games last week, the Billikens remained undefeated in conference play at 12-0 and extended their winning streak to 19 games. On Wednesday of last week, Saint Louis endured another mistakenly difficult match-up against George Mason when they won 89-85 in single-overtime. This was the Billikens second time playing the Patriots, who are tied for last place in the Atlantic 10, and also their second time being taken to overtime by them… which really goes to show how good this conference is. Now moving forward to Saturday, when they had their second game of the week, this time playing George Washington at Chaifetz Arena. Saint Louis won this game, in regulation, thankfully, by a score of 66-59; most likely because of my presence in section 115.

 

After being ranked 10th in last week’s Associated Press Top 25, fans and I were all anxious to find out the fate of our

Photo courtesy Saint Louis Athletics

Photo courtesy Saint Louis Athletics

prestigious ranking come the following Monday. To some’s chagrin, and other’s unexpected delight, the team maintained their spot at #10 in the nation, and very luckily I might add as there was a lot of commotion around us: #11 Creighton and #11 Louisville leapfrogged us, while much to our advantage both #6 San Diego State and #7 Cincinnati fell out of the Top 10. People may argue against either team dropping or advancing, but in retrospect, let us all just appreciate where the team is at right now. It is truly history in the making.

 

Looking forward, Thursday will be one of our most important games of the year. Yes, Thursday, when we play the Duquesne Dukes whom are 3 spots from last place in our conference. The game that students waited in line at 7:30 AM to get tickets for; another sold out home game. Why is this game so important, you might ask? Because with a win Thursday, the Billikens will clinch a 1st round Atlantic 10 tournament bye, and clinch at least a share of the regular-season title. This would be the second year in a row for both the #1 seed in the tournament and the regular season title, and it might be biased, but I would like to add  that both scenarios are well-deserved.

 

Looking even further forward, Saturday will be just as important as Thursday. Not necessarily for the sake of clinching any titles, but because it will be the second game the Billikens play against Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU is currently  23rd in terms of RPI, meaning a win at their place would be another Top 50 win that would help improve our “resume”. This game, however, will be arguably their most difficult conference game and a loss would be extremely detrimental to our status in the eyes of the nation and the media. At this point, we have everything to lose and winning is the only option if we want  to stay in high regard in the rankings. The team was able to barely escape their last match-up with VCU at Chaifetz Arena, so will they be able to do the same when they play at the Siegel Center? We all sure hope so. First thing is first, and no game should be overlooked; Duquesne is clearly our first priority, but we only have one day between games and we will have to be both physically and mentally prepared for Saturday no matter what the outcome of Thursday may be. It is a great time to be a Billiken fan, and this week will be fun to watch for better or for worse. Go Bills!

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