A-10 road warriors: Road/neutral records offer hint at future champ?

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Brooklyn, we’re gonna miss ya, but Pittsburgh…here we come!

The Atlantic 10’s 14 teams and their fans will set sail for the Steel City this week and by Sunday, we’ll have ourselves a new champ (sorry, Saint Joseph’s). Below is a look at this year’s A-10 road/neutral records to help give us some hint of how this year’s field may perform at PPG Paints Arena and without the full support of their home crowds.

1 – DAYTON
Road: 7-3
Neutral: 2-2
Best r/n win: No.51 Rhode Island
Worst r/n loss: No.151 UMass
The Flyers have amassed a 9-5 record away from UD Arena that include impressive enough wins to suggest (to no one’s surprise) they are capable of winning in Pittsburgh. Four of Dayton’s road wins were against top-100 opponents including wins at St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island and Davidson, three potential (likely?) opponents on their side of the bracket this week.

2 – VCU
Road: 7-4
Neutral: 2-2
Best r/n win: No.90 Richmond
Worst r/n loss: No.196 Fordham
VCU’s road record was full of close calls this season, both in victory (GW, St. Bonaventure) and defeat (Fordham, Dayton). VCU picked up two kenpom top-100 road Ws but added a neutral court victory over St. John’s as well. VCU led Baylor at the half in a neutral court matchup earlier this season but got destroyed in the second half and had a miserable neutral court showing in Miami against Illinois. Still,  As their record suggests, in most instances VCU found a way to win, sometimes in the craziest ways I’ve ever seen.

3 – Richmond
Road: 7-5
Neutral: 1-1
Best r/n win: No.85 Davidson
Worst r/n loss: No.237 Oral Roberts
Somehow, someway, it feels like Richmond is flying under the radar as the No.3 seed in this bracket. The Spiders own a winning road/neutral record and came close to a perfect 2-0 neutral court record before dropping an overtime decision to Maryland. Richmond however owns just one top-100 road/neutral win, defeating Davidson 82-80 to start A-10 play and were swept by both VCU and George Mason, two potential Spider opponents in the A-10 semifinal matchup. The Spiders also defeated the favorite to meet them in the quarterfinals, GW, 77-70 thanks to a blazing-hot 61.5% shooting the last time they met outside of the Robins Center.

4 – Rhode Island
Road: 7-5
Neutral: 1-1
Best r/n win: No.20 Cincinnati
Worst r/n loss: No.99 Valpo
The biggest feather in Dan Hurley’s cap this season was Rhody’s YUGE neutral court win over Cincinnati that is helping give this URI team hope still for an at-large bid should they need it. Both Rhody’s neutral court games were against kenpom top-20 opponents but with vastly different results (the Rams were hammered by Duke a game after beating the Bearcats). Of URI’s road losses, all five were to top-100 teams including a 3-point road loss to a Dayton squad they could potentially play in the semifinals.

5 – St. Bonaventure
Road: 5-6
Neutral: 2-1
Best r/n win: No.151 UMass
Worst r/n loss: No.242 Little Rock
Couple of disclaimers first: I included the Bonnies “semi-away” game against Florida in Lakeland, FL as an away game, because that’s pretty damn away for a team from Olean and pretty damn home for a team named “FLORIDA”. I also counted the Bonnies Rochester game as a home game, not neutral, because it was basically all Bonnies fans. So with that bit of business taken care of, the Bonnies were not all that impressive outside of Olean this season. SBU’s five road wins were all against teams ranked 150 or lower by kenpom. HOWEVA’ I must say they kept some solid road games close, losing by six points or less at GW, Dayton and Davidson. But here’s the bad news: Bad news 1) they lost by 12 at Rhody, what would be their quarterfinal opponent..bad news 2) their three neutral court games were against teams ranked 231st or worse by kenpom. They lost the first of those games, dropping a three-point neutral court contest to Little Rock. That said, I’ve got a fan crush on St. Bonaventure. Their drunken hoard that attacked Barclays last year (and I say that as an honest-to-God compliment) is now three hours closer to the A-10 tourney location than last year. I can’t wait to see how deep they roll. Watch out, Rhody.

6 – George Washington
Road: 5-7
Neutral: 0-3
Best r/n win: No.107 Harvard
Worst r/n loss: No.193 UAB
Another disclaimer: I’m counting GW’s Verizon Center loss to FSU as a neutral court game because despite the proximity to campus, it basically was pretty darn neutral. But starting with road record, The Colonials went 0-5 against top-100 teams on the road and 0-2 against the top-100 in neutral court games. Doesn’t make you want to pencil them in as champs. They did however defeat Duquesne in Pitt once this year, a team that could very well end up as their first A-10 tournament opponent this week. After that they’d take on a Richmond Spiders team that swept them this season and made it look pretty easy in the process. GW however nearly defeated VCU and ended their season with a win over Dayton, so they’ll be sure to have every team’s attention this week.

7 – George Mason
Road: 7-5
Neutral: 2-1
Best r/n win: No.82 Penn State
Worst r/n loss: No.277 Saint Louis
Not a bad showing at all for Dave Paulsen’s group of youngins away from EagleBank and they’ll start their Pittsburgh experience with a rematch against Fordham, a team the Patriots defeated by six in Fairfax in their only meeting between the two. Should they sweep Fordham they would get a third shot at VCU, a team that ended Mason’s regular season with a 12-point loss and had beaten them at home as well. Mason went 3-4 in road/neutral court games against top-100 teams (not bad) and is on a side of this year’s bracket that could set them up for a surprise title game appearance.

8 – La Salle
Road: 4-7
Neutral: 0-2
Best r/n win: No.51 Rhode Island
Worst r/n loss: No.277 Saint Louis
You’d think a team named the “Explorers” would be a little more comfortable on the road than this year’s La Salle group. Dr. John Giannini’s patchwork team of transfers picked up a surprise road win at Rhode Island in a road/neutral showing that was otherwise very forgettable outside of the Gola. La Salle went 1-5 against top-100 teams away from their home gym with an average margin of defeat of 13.3 points. They’ll head into this year’s tourney with a path that would likely see them play nothing but top-100s, starting with an opening matchup against No.85 Davidson, a team they defeated at home earlier this season. A win there however would set them up for a well-rested Dayton squad.

9 – Davidson
Road: 5-8
Neutral: 2-1
Best r/n win: No.130 Arizona State
Worst r/n loss: No.124 George Washington
Reason for concern if you’re a Wildcat fan: The Wildcats best win outside of Belk came all the way back on Nov 29 when Davidson beat kenpom No.142 Mercer. Davidson will start their A-10 journey against a La Salle team that defeated them 91-83 in mid-January, a win setting them up for a date with Dayton. Here’s the good news though: 1) Jack Gibbs & Peyton Aldridge and 2) Davidson’s last three games were OT losses to Dayton and Rhody and a win against St. Bonaventure. Davidson has proven they can compete against their side of the bracket, but if you’re really looking at the evidence, things aren’t looking good for Davidson in this tournament.

10 – Fordham
Road: 5-8
Neutral: 0-1
Best r/n win: No.51 Rhode Island
Worst r/n loss: No.285 Manhattan
The days of Fordham filling the Barclays Center full of screaming Ram fans may feel like a distant memory (or a complete dream) with the A-10 tourney moving outside of the Rams’ home city these next two seasons. Fordham has played one legit neutral court game this year and were dominated by Rutgers that evening, 68-53. Fordham does however have two surprising road wins this season at Davidson and Rhode Island and also defeated VCU once this year, their waiting quarterfinal opponent if they can avenge a loss to George Mason. I think Fordham has the ability to be an early rounds wildcard but don’t expect these Rams to do any serious damage in this year’s A-10 tournament, especially with a roster that is running awfully thing at this point in the season.

11 – Saint Louis
Road: 1-10
Neutral: 0-2
Best r/n win: No.115 George Mason
Worst r/n loss: No.218 Duquesne
Must I dive into why the Billikens are cooked in this year’s tournament?  1-12 outside of the Gateway City. That includes a road loss in Pittsburgh to the Duquesne team they’ll open this year’s tournament against…in Pittsburgh.

12 – UMass
Road: 3-10
Neutral: 0-0
Best r/n win: No.122 Georgia State
Worst r/n loss: No.277 Saint Louis
The good news for the Minutemen is their first Wednesday A-10 tourney game will be against the only Atlantic 10 team they beat on the road this season, completing a season sweep of Saint Joseph’s with a 87-76 win at Hagan. That game was WITH Lamar Kimble, so while their overall tourney hopes look bleak, UMass has a decent shot at at least one win in this year’s tournament.

13 – Saint Joseph’s
Road: 4-9
Neutral: 2-2
Best r/n win: No.63 Princeton
Worst r/n loss: No.277 Saint Louis
With an 8-6 start to their season, SJU very much had the look of a tough young team in the middle of a rebuild. That however was with then-leading scorer Shavar Newkirk. Once the talented junior went down, so did the Hawks’ season, going 3-14 without him. Oddly enough they did end their season with a road win in Pittsburgh and will look to make it two in a row to hopefully avoid an 0-3 record against UMass a season after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament.

14 – Duquesne
Road: 1-10
Neutral: 1-1
Home*: 8-10
Best r/n win: No.73 Pittsburgh
Worst r/n loss: No.277 Saint Louis
It’s somewhat fitting that these guys come last in this post as the Dukes road/neutral record may matter less as the host team for this year’s tournament. Duquesne has had some magic in this building already this season, defeating the ACC’s Pitt Panthers early this season before following that up with a letdown loss to Robert Morris. Long story short, home city advantages have hardly worked out well for A-10 bottom feeders in the past, so it’s likely Duquesne’s Athletics Department will have a much longer run in this year’s tourney than their Jimmy Ferry-led bball team.

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About Author

Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of VCURamNation.com where he covered the Rams all the way to Houston as the one-time CAA darling shocked the hoops world with a historic run to the Final 4. He has worked within two Atlantic 10 athletic departments, first as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department during the '09-'10 basketball season, then after receiving his M.Ed. from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership, as a ticketing and marketing intern in the University of Richmond's athletic department during the inaugural season of Richmond's Robins Stadium, months before the Spiders 2011 Sweet 16 run.

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