Saint Louis will take on Virginia Commonwealth for the 2013 Atlantic 10 Tournament title after successfully winning their way through to the final.
The respective first and second seeds were largely favored to duke it out for the conference championship, and their matchup on Sunday, March 17 is shaping up to be one of the most memorable A-10 fixtures witnessed throughout this season.
Both sides will fancy their chances at clinching the title here, with the Billikens defense and the Rams offense both capable of winning the title. However, there can only be one winner, and that means that one of those two categories mentioned will falter on the night.
Read on to see some of the key statistics for both teams heading into the final, and how they could determine the conference champion for 2013.
20: No. of Turnovers Forced Against Butler
As mentioned, defensive solidity is going to be key for Saint Louis as they surge toward the conference title—much like it has been all season long.
In their regular-season defeat of VCU, Saint Louis went on a 21-1 run in the first half to build a commanding lead that would ultimately win them the game. That same defensive strength was on display in the A-10 semifinals against Butler, where the Billikens forced an incredible 20 turnovers.
It's unlikely that a strong offense like the Rams' will produce that many turnovers in the final, but given Saint Louis' defense, they will need to be careful here.
The Billikens are great at forcing bad passes and shots from their opponents—as we've seen all season—and if they can do that to Virginia Commonwealth in the final game here, they'll come very close to being named conference champions for 2013.
8: Ranking in the Country for Points Scored Per Game
The Rams do have the offensive strength required to overcome the Billikens in the final this year, with their offense being one of the strongest in the entire country.
VCU ranks eighth in average points per game, and as I pointed out in my preview here, it's hit that mark in six of its past nine fixtures, giving it a great run of form to continue on into the final here, even against a good defense like Saint Louis.
The Rams average nearly 10 points per game more than their opponents in the final, but they only scored 62 points when they played earlier in the year.
Look for VCU to take early shots when available here in an attempt to take the Billikens defense out of the equation. If those shots start to fall, and the Rams get some good momentum in transition, VCU certainly has a chance of winning this conference final.
15: No. of Offensive Rebounds VCU Had vs. Saint Louis
As mentioned, these two teams played a regular-season game back on February 19, with the Billikens emerging as 14-point winners on the night.
However, despite that win, VCU dominated nearly every offensive statistic in that game, and had they not allowed Saint Louis to go on such a big run early in the first half, they would most likely have made the final score a lot closer to what it probably should have been.
The Rams picked up 15 offensive boards that night against Saint Louis, who only managed to grab seven in total. They also finished with a much higher three-point percentage, though their regular field-goal percentage left a lot to be desired (hence the 21-1 run).
If Virginia Commonwealth can compete with, or even dominate, a team like Saint Louis on the offensive glass, then it could well end up hanging in there in this one.
Its offense is very strong and capable, and if its big men can find room inside over Saint Louis' bigs, then VCU should see plenty of points scored here. Which, given the lack of point scoring that the Billikens have had this year, could well fall in the Rams' favor here.
Look for the Rams to try and dominate the offensive glass and grab plenty of second-chance opportunities against Saint Louis here. If they can win that battle—and win it comfortably like during the regular season—don't be surprised to see them come very close to the conference title in 2013.
If not, it should be a fairly straightforward win for Saint Louis.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.
What do you think will decide this Atlantic 10 Tournament final?
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