Dukes and Owls Square Off With NCAA Tournament Bid on the Line
March 14, 2009
2008-09 ATLANTIC 10 CHAMPIONSHIP
#7 DUQUESNE (21-11) vs. #4 TEMPLE (21-11)
TELEVISION: ESPN2 with Dave Pasch & Bob Valvano
FINAL-LY!: This is the first time Duquesne has advanced to the Atlantic 10 Championship title game since 1981. The Dukes' only other championship game appearance came in the Eastern 8's inagural tournament in 1977 when Norm Nixon led the Dukes to the title. DU is 1-1 all time in tournament title games. This is the first time Duquesne - a No. 7 seed - has won three games in the Championship since `77. Duquesne will be attempting to become the second A-10 school to win the title in four games (Xavier did it in 2004 as a West No. 4 seed and in 2006 as a No. 10 seed, both of which were close to home as the `04 title game was played at University of Dayton Arena and the `06 final was at Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena). Only 13 times in NCAA history has a team won four games in four days in a conference tournament.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: The winner of the A-10 Championship receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Duquesne has made a total of five NCAA tournament appearances, the last of which came in 1977 (1940, 1952, 1969, 1971 & `77).
HOW'D THEY GET HERE: DU opened with a 91-81 win over No. 10 seed UMass on Wednesday followed by a 78-74 upset of No. 2 Rhode Island Thursday night. DU secured its spot in the final with a 77-66 upset win over No. 3 Dayton yesterday.
DUQUESNE LATELY: Duquesne's 21 wins are its most since 1971 ... DU is bidding for its first NCAA Tournament bid since the 1977 Norm Nixon-led Dukes, who went 3-7 in conference play, reeled off wins over Penn State, UMass and Villanova to rise above .500 at 15-14 and earn the first league championship ... the Dukes snapped an eight-game second round losing streak with Thursday's 78-74 win over Rhode Island ... DU is 1-1 in championship games (win in `77 and loss to Pitt in `81) ... senior point guard Aaron Jackson, who has never missed a game in his Duquesne career, will be taking the floor for his 119th consecutive game ... only Tony Petrarca (120 games from 1987-91) has played in more games at DU ... Jackson, who has 16 assists in three tourney games (184 total), has broken the school single-season record of 178 set by Norm Nixon in 1977 ... 6-7 soph. F Damian Saunders has broken the DU single-season record for steals with 71 ... the old mark of 70 was set by Clayton Adams in 1988 ... Saunders' 78 blocks rank second in Duquesne's all-time list ... DU has set a new school record for 3-point makes (270) and attempts (768) breaking the record for both set in 2007 (239-of-722) ... DU's 538 assists are one shy of the school record of 539 set last year.
DUQUESNE vs. TEMPLE: Temple leads the overall series 37-13, including a 4-0 advantage in A-10 Championship games ... Duquesne has won just two of the past 15 meetings - with both wins coming at home ... DU snapped an eight-game series losing streak with a 61-54 win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 8, 2003 ... two years ago DU rallied from 12 down with 11:55 left to defeat the Owls 96-92 at the Palumbo Center ... Juan Fernandez led four Temple players in double figures in Temple's 78-73 win over DU on Feb. 15 ... Ron Everhart is 1-2 vs. Temple.
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE: Duquesne, which has posted its first 20-win season since 1981 and is one win away from its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1977, was 3-24 with an RPI of 308 the year before Ron Everhart's arrival on the Bluff. In his first season, Everhart took a team that had two returning players (one of whom was senior Aaron Jackson) and was rocked by a preseason campus shooting to a 10-19 record including five consecutive A-10 regular season wins. Last year, he led the Dukes to the school's first winning record since 1994 at 17-13 as DU's RPI improved to 130. This year, despite losing his top five scorers from the 17-win team, Everhart has guided a team with one scholarship upperclassman (Jackson) and eight freshmen (one of whom was lost for the season due to December knee surgery) to 21 wins and a 77RPI through games of March 12.
21 WINS: Duquesne's 21 wins are its most since the 1971 NCAA team went 21-4. The `71 Dukes, who lost in the first round of the East Regional to Penn, finished the season ranked 15th by AP and 18th by UPI. The last Duquesne team to win 22 games was the 1962 Dukes who finished 22-7 on the way to a fourth-place NIT finish and No. 17 (AP) and No. 18 (UPI) national ranking. This is the first time since 1981 (20-10) and second time since 1972 (20-5) that Duquesne has won 20 games in a season.
SOME BIG Ws: The Dukes, who own a victory over then-No. 9 (AP) Xavier (72-68), have also defeated a pair of NCAA Tournament teams on the road in Radford (94-75) and Robert Morris (88-62). DU never trailed in handing RMU its worst loss of the season and led Radford from the 19:31 mark of the first half. DU only trailed Xavier at 2-0 and led from the 17:43 mark on. The Dukes also own a win over MAC No. 1 seed Bowling Green and victories over a pair of 20-win teams in Rhode Island and Dayton at the A-10 Championship.
FOUR IN FOUR: Only 13 times in NCAA history has a team won four games in four days of a conference tournament. Its been done twice in the Atlantic 10:
SCHOOL -- CONFERENCE (YEAR)