Is it Too Soon To Think About March Madness?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of winter already. Time to start thinking Spring and no I’m not talking about that time of year where the weather actually gets nice. I’m thinking of that time of year where we think it should get nice and it never actually does. I’m talking about March. Of course, who needs good weather when you’re glued to your TV from Thursday to Sunday like the degenerate gambler your mother hoped you wouldn’t become.

The Atlantic 10 got six in the NCAA tournament last year. It ain’t happening again this year because while there are some strong teams at the top, there are some dangerous ones at the bottom of the conference with bad loss baggage and the strong desire to bring others down with them. Last year, the A-10 had one team outside the top 200 but three project to finish in the wasteland this year. Those teams will win some games. The league is also thinner at the top with only six teams currently in the top 100 meaning fewer chances to build a resume. On top of all that, the power conference are looking more powerful with the SEC rebounding nicely and the Big East and Big 12 ripping through non – conference like nobody’s business. Those last two have fourteen of their twenty combined members in good shape to challenge for bids. There simply won’t be as many bids that trickle down.

So who can start shining their dancing shoes from the A-10? Clearly, no one yet, but some teams are in much better positions than others.

Just Take Care Of Business

VCU (12- 3)
RPI — 4
Big Wins: vs Northern Iowa, @Cincinnati, vs Davidson
Bad Losses: None

It’s pretty simple. As long as VCU avoid too many fluke losses to bad teams or a total meltdown, they will dance. They already have three projected top 50 wins according the RPIForecast and a handful of other top 100’s. If the Rams find a way to cobble to together any combination of eight more wins, they’re probably good to go. It’s all about that seed really.

Work to Do

George Washington (12-3)
RPI — 26
Big Wins: vs Wichita St (N)
Bad Losses: @ Penn St

Of all the remaining Atlantic 10 programs, George Washington probably has the least work to do thanks the Shocker scalp they earned in their semi surprise victory against Wichita St. Of course, GW also has a bad loss against the Nittany Lions to deal with. GW needs at least one, probably two more wins against a tournament contenders to get in. That said, they’ve looked a little shaky against the bottom of the A-10 to start the year. Let’s hope they hang on.

Dayton (12-2)
RPI — 22
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: None

Here is the thing about Dayton. They are the real deal, but they’re in a really daunting spot. They have a fist full of wins against projected top 100 programs including three against BCS opponents. Problem is, they’re lacking a marque win and they only get two, maybe three, shots the rest of the way against likely top fifty teams in VCU, GW and Davidson. Truth is, they have weak doubles and while it will pad their W’s, it won’t strengthen their resume. They’ll probably need to at least split GW and VCU in the regular season and hope to meet one of them again in Brooklyn in order to lock up a spot. In the end, they could hold a great RPI but no elite wins. Ask Southern Miss all about that scenario. Maybe the street cred of getting into the Elite Eight last years gets them bonus points.

Lots of Work to Do

Davidson (9-3)
RPI — 61
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: None

I haven’t been as wrong as I was about Davidson coming into the season in a while. I underestimated them not because of their coaching, but because of their talent on paper. It turns out that have both. Their RPI sits 61, they project for the top 40, but like Dayton they lack the marque win. Luckily for the Wildcats, they’ll get four more cracks at it instead of just three. Problem is, they’re also short on top 100 win having only beaten Charlotte who project to be borderline NIT team in a weak Conference USA.

Rhode Island (9-3)
RPI — 56
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: None

Rhode Island has won some games, but I wouldn’t say they’ve really built a resume. They beat then ranked Nebraska who have gone out of their way to prove how overrated they were since. Not only do the Rams need a marque win, they need some good wins as well. It wouldn’t hurt their chances if the Cornhuskers decided to win some games, too.

Stop Calling it the “Not In Tournament”

UMass (8-7)
RPI — 64
Big Wins: None
Bad Losses: vs Florida Gulf Coast, vs St Bonaventure

In fairness, UMass might be able to get in, but they have a ton of work to do. Unlike some of the above teams, they do have one solid top – 100 win against Iona and a couple of others that could break that way like Northeastern and La Salle. Problem is, they’ve already racked up a lot of losses including two bad ones. True, their schedule’s been brutal, but if they were good enough to dance, they’d have probably found a way to beat one of Notre Dame, Providence, BYU or LSU. These are all teams that will fit somewhere near the bubble and UMass gave their competition a decent win while failing to claim a thing for themselves.

You Can Be in the CBI and They Won’t Even Make You Pay (Much)

La Salle (8-7)
RPI — 107

Richmond (8-7)
RPI — 135

Here’s a story of two seasons. One of these teams, La Salle is probably ok with where they are. The other not so much. The Explorers are still building and essentially have everyone of import back again next year. After a surprisingly down 13-14, they’ll probably take the CBI on the rebound. Richmond, on the other hand, brought everyone back but they moved ahead. They could be dangerous, but at this point they’re probably just going to play spoiler.

Better Luck Next Year

St Joe’s, Saint Louis, St Bonaventure, Duquesne, Fordham, George Mason

Sorry guys, but I’m not even going to list your records let alone write something about you. Of course, miracles do happen in Brooklyn… I think.

Maybe that’s Midtown I’m thinking of.

That’s right, it’s pickles.  Pickles and mustaches and feminist art and gentrification and shady Russian business deals. That’s what happens in Brooklyn.

You guys are all screwed. Try again next year.