When the latest Associated Press poll came out Monday afternoon, the St. Bonaventure women's basketball team stayed in the top 20, coming in at No. 19 for the second straight week.
The rub? St. John's, a loser to the Bonnies earlier this season, jumped to No. 18. But for the team's inner circle, that is no rub or slight, real or perceived. There is only this reality: The Bonnies will be the No. 1 seed in this weekend's Atlantic 10 Tournament after being only the seventh team to go undefeated in conference play.
With a win at Rhode Island on Saturday, Bona wrapped up a 14-0 A-10 season and earned the regular-season title.
"I really have no words for it," Bona coach Jim Crowley said about the undefeated conference mark. "It has sunk in some, but we've stayed focused. Part of the reason it hasn't sunk in is that our kids aren't letting it. They're very happy with their success but they've stayed focused on the A-10 tourney. It wasn't like they were dancing around the locker room [after beating Rhode Island]. There was excitement and some celebrating but there's still things they want to do."
What they want to do is get to the NCAA Tournament. For the last three seasons, the Bonnies have quietly built a successful program that has stacked up 20-win seasons and earned three straight WNIT berths. With the regular-season title, even if they end up with an NCAA snub, they have guaranteed themselves a WNIT bid. But that's not the prize they have their eyes on.
At 27-2 overall and a No. 19 national ranking, the Bonnies should have a strong-enough resume for an NCAA bid. But they can take all guesswork out of the equation by winning the A-10 tournament title.
The conference madness is in Philadelphia this year, hosted by Saint Joseph's. The tournament opens with first-round games Friday.
Bona will play the winner of the first-round matchup between No. 8 La Salle and No. 9 Xavier. Other first-round games include: No. 5 Saint Joseph's vs. No. 12 Fordham, No. 7 Duquesne vs. No. 10 George Washington and No. 5 Charlotte vs. No. 11 Saint Louis.
Also earning first-round byes were No. 2 Temple, No. 3 Dayton and No. 4 Richmond.