When March comes around, tournament time entices basketball fans and teams alike as winning a conference championship means a guaranteed bid to the NCAA Tournament. This goes for members of the Atlantic 10 conference, who will play their competition nearby at CHASE Fieldhouse in Wilmington. The favorites to win it all are UMass and Fordham, but two Big 5 schools in the conference have the talent to play spoilers. Here’s what obstacles they might face.

La Salle

The Explorers finished their season Saturday with a 62-55 win against a struggling George Washington team to give them a 16-11 overall record, a 9-6 conference record, and a No. 5 seed in the tournament. La Salle’s success this season has been largely due to its balanced scoring. The Explorers have had three key players averaging double digits in points.

Senior guard Kayla Spruill has been a focal point for La Salle’s offense, averaging a team-high 16 points while shooting three-pointers at a 47% clip. Junior forward Gabby Crawford has been utilized as La Salle’s go-to option off the bench as well, averaging 11.6 points per game and grabbing at least 5.3 boards a contest. Junior guard Claire Jacobs rounds out the big three for the Explorers, averaging 10.3 and shooting 35% from distance, and second in total team assists with 58.

La Salle faces off against George Washington in a rematch on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

If La Salle wins, it will play No. 4 VCU. In the only game played against VCU this season, La Salle lost at home by 6. VCU’s Taya Robinson exploded for a game-high 21 points, so if the Explorers can shut her down while also continuing to focus on rebounding, they might have a puncher’s chance to walk away with an upset win.

St. Joseph’s

The St. Joe’s Hawks ended with a 11-16 overall record to give them the No. 7 seed in the tournament. The Hawks have had an up-and-down season, as early season injuries left their freshmen with a bulk of playing time which delivered a 7-8 conference record. The duo of freshmen Talya Brugler and Mackenzie Smith have been performing extremely well.

On Tuesday, Brugler was voted the A-10 Rookie of the Year, adding to her already decorated first year with the team. The forward is a dominant force for the Hawks, averaging team highs in points per game, 10.2, and rebounds per game, 5.6. Her most notable double-double came in a one-point win against Davidson, when she scored 18 points and pulled down 16 boards. Guard Mackenzie Smith has been on a tear as well, averaging 9.6 points and shooting three-pointers at a 41% clip. One of Smith’s best performances came in a win against St. Bonaventure, when she scored 25 points while shooting 50% from the field and added 8 rebounds.

Rounding out the Hawks’ top players is guard Katie Jekot. The graduate student is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.1 points. Jekot’s leadership and veteran presence have been crucial for the team’s development of its youngest talents. If St. Joe’s makes a big run this year, it will be from the team following her lead to victory.

The Hawks’ first matchup in the tournament is against a familiar face, No. 10 Duquesne, on Thursday at 5 p.m. The two last met in the Hawks’ final regular-season game, when St. Joe’s won by 5 and had four players in double-digit scoring. St. Joe’s feasted on fast-break opportunities, scoring 16 points to Duquesne’s 6, so look for the Hawks to go out on the break and look for transition makes. The Dukes, however, honed in on defense and the team was able to come away with 10 steals and 26 points off Hawk’s turnovers. This will be a key focus for Duquesne as its defense can cause quick takeaways, which will translate into easy scores.

If St. Joe’s wins against Duquesne, the following matchup will be against No. 2 Rhode Island. The last time St. Joe’s played Rhode Island, the outcome was a 10-point loss at home. The Hawks were outrebounded and had a total of 18 turnovers in the tough defeat. In order to come away with a major upset, the Hawks will have to look for their frontcourt players to consistently grab rebounds and depend on their guards to control the ball and limit turnovers.