For the first time in far too long, the Atlantic 10 is back on the up and up again! (Hopefully) gone are the days of being a one-bid league, as the A-10 hopes to put at least two A-10 teams back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018 when George Washington and Dayton both danced. Top to bottom, this is the most talented, athletic, and most fun that this league has been in quite some time! The regular season title came down to the final day of the regular season, and in total, 13 of the 14 teams in the league entered the final day of the regular season having yet to clinch their seed in the A-1o Tournament, which just speaks to the level of parity and competition we have seen this season. This year kicks off the first year of the A-10 contract with CHASE Fieldhouse in Wilmington, DE to be the long-term home of the Women’s Atlantic 10 Tournament! Who will be crowned as the first champion in the new home of the tournament? Show me the contestants!
Let’s meet the teams!
Overall record: 23-4
Conference record: 14-1
The Flyers took every punch that the Atlantic 10 threw at them, and came out of conference play nearly unscathed. Their lone loss came at the hands of VCU at UD Arena on February 13. Dayton impressively swept the season series with 2-seed Rhode Island, including a dominant 60-46 win over the Rams to close out the regular season and clinch the A-10 regular season crown. Dayton represents the Atlantic 10’s best shot at receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, ending the regular season with a NET ranking of #42, with non-conference wins over Purdue, Illinois, and Clemson. Dayton has the experience to run the table in Wilmington, led by Erin Whalen and Jenna Giacone. After getting bounced by VCU in the A-10 Semifinals a year ago, you know this bunch is going to be hungry for another title, and wants to leave nothing to chance on Selection Sunday. The rest of the A-10 will be hoping for a Flyers misstep, which would greatly increase the odds of the league receiving two bids.
#2 Rhode Island
Overall record: 22-5
Conference record: 12-2
Rhode Island themselves have just two Atlantic 10 loses to their name: both coming at the hands of top-seeded Dayton. The Rams will be happy they will not have to face the Flyers until the conference championship game (if at all), as they scored just 37 and 46 points in their two matchups. Against the rest of the league, URI proved to be one of the top offenses in the A-10, averaging 64.6 points per game. Four different Rams average in double figures in scoring, led by Emmanuelle Tahane with 13.9 PPG. Rhode Island also has an outside shot at getting an at-large bid, entering the A-10 Tournament with a NET ranking of #55, and sitting in the Next Four Out of ESPN’s bracketology. Aside from their loses to Dayton, URI’s only other loses of the season all came consecutively in late-November and early-December, at the hands of Long Beach State, Holy Cross and Buffalo. You take even one of those loses away, and the Rams would almost certainly be a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they arrive in Wilmington with still much to prove.
Overall record: 23-6
Conference record: 11-4
Last year’s Cinderella of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, with a magical run all the way to the A-10 Championship game, are underdogs no more. The Minutewomen are enjoying the best season in school history, posting a record 23-wins led by presumptive A-10 Player of the Year, Sam Breen. A walking double-double, Breen averages 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. She also shoots the ball efficiently from three, at 30% on the season. Not to be outdone, Sydney Taylor and Destiney Philoxy also average in double-figures in scoring at 15.9 and 11.5 points per game respectively, with Taylor shooting at just under 35% from three. As a team, UMass boats the top offense in the Atlantic 10 at 71.9 points per game, while allowing just 61.0 points per game. As far as their postseason hopes go, UMass is sitting at the tail end of the Next Four Out in ESPN’s bracketology, and have a NET ranking of #50. It is not impossible for the Minutewomen to still sneak into the NCAA Tournament, but they will likely need to advance to the A-10 title game, and cross their fingers for minimal bid-stealers around the nation. Otherwise, it looks like a second-consecutive WNIT birth is in their future, still a tremendous accomplishment.
Overall record: 14-10
Conference record: 10-5
The defending A-10 Tournament champions are back and looking for more! Despite dropping their final two contests of the regular season to UMass and Richmond, VCU was arguably as good as almost anyone in the A-10 in the month of February. The Rams handed Dayton their lone conference loss of the season on February 13, on the road no less, apart of a six-game winning streak. That said, they do not arrive in Wilmington with a ton of momentum, especially after being handed a buzzer-beating defeat from their archrival Richmond at home on Senior Day to end the regular season. Still, I’m not sure anyone expected VCU to be in a top-4 position, especially considering how they started A-10 play, dropping three of their first four games to UMass, Fordham, and Saint Louis. Taya Robinson leads the Rams with 15.6 points per game, and will almost certainly find herself on one of the all-conference teams when they are unveiled this week.
#5 La Salle
Overall record: 16-11
Conference record: 9-6
What a year for the Explorers! Picked to finish the season in eighth place, La Salle has FAR exceeded expectations this season, and has finally taken that step forward! Mountain MacGillivray has something special going in Philly right now, with a talented roster, and one that has shown flashes at various points this season. Kayla Spruill leads the league in three-point field goal percentage at a blazing 47%, while also leading her team in scoring at 16.0 points per game. Gabby Crawford is in the midst of a breakout year, as she is second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game, while the Jacobs sisters (Amy and Claire) combine to average 16.2 points per game. My lone bone to pick with this team is they have a tendency to be a bit inconsistent at times, and have the feel of a team poised for either a deep run in the tournament, or an early exit. Time will tell what this team has in store this week!
Overall record: 17-9
Conference record: 8-6
Without a doubt, the biggest disappointment of the season is Fordham, who seemed to just fall off a cliff in late-February, losing four straight games and completely falling from what seemed like a near lock of a NCAA Tournament team to one that will be hoping to just receive a bid to the WNIT. Granted, three of those four loses came at the hands of Dayton, Rhode Island and UMass, the conference’s top three teams. But the fourth came against Richmond, a team the Rams really had to find a way to beat, and just couldn’t. Make no mistake, this roster is still loaded with talent, led by A-10 leading scorer Anna DeWolfe, who averages 18.6 points per game, as well as star transfer Asia Dingle, not to mention Kendall Heremaia. And especially given the 7-2 start they had to A-10 play, an 8-6 final record and a 6th place finish is simply puzzling.
#7 Saint Joseph’s
Overall record: 11-16
Conference record: 7-8
Losing your leading scorer in the middle of the season is often a death sentence for a team, any team. Even UConn. For Saint Joseph’s, it was a rallying cry. When Kaliah
Overall record: 16-13
Conference record: 7-9
Though it’ll never show up on any stat sheet, this Richmond team is one of the scrappier team in the Atlantic 10 this year. Their Achilles heel has been inconsistency, especially on the defensive end. The Spiders rank dead-last in the league in points allowed per game at 67.1, which is only somewhat offset by their offense which ranks second-best in the league at 70.8 points per game. Richmond also ranks last in the A-10 in both turnovers per game (16.7) and turnover margin (-3.76). This is especially frustrating because this Richmond team has a LOT of talent on it! As a team, they lead the conference in field goal percentage at 44%, and Emma Squires ranks second in three-point field goal percentage at 47%. Squires is one of four Spiders who average in double-figures in scoring (at 10.8 PPG), along with Addie Budnik (13.4), Kate Klimkiewicz (12.0), and Grace Townsend (10.2). To add to the statistical accolades, Budnik ranks second in the A-10 and 10th in the nation in total blocked shots (74), and second in the A-10 and 14th in the nation in blocks per game (2.55). This team has the pieces to put together some wins in Wilmington this week if they can just manage to clean up their game a bit.
Overall record: 15-13
Conference record: 6-10
The Wildcats secured one of the more improbable wins of the season, when they upset UMass on February 20, 76-67. The loss dealt a major blow to the Minutewomen’s resume, and the A-10’s dreams of being a multi-bid league. But for Davidson, it signaled a return to a finally healthy lineup, and a flash of what this team is capable of. Both Suzi-Rose Deegan and Adelaide Fuller missed time this season, Davidson’s second and fourth leading scorers on the roster. As a result, Elle Sutphin and Chloe Welch have had to carry a heavier offensive load, leading the team with 13.6 and 10.5 points per game respectively. When this team is clicking, they have proven they can compete with anyone in the conference. However, when they are not, they have shown they can also lose to anyone as well, evidenced by their home loss to last-place George Mason.
Overall record: 11-17
Conference record: 6-10
It’s been another difficult year for Dan Burt and company, as the Dukes once again seemed to struggle to find consistency in their game. Looking at their conference schedule, they beat pretty much who you would expect them to, and lost to pretty much who you would expect them to. Their best win by far came against La Salle, and their other wins were against Saint Louis, George Mason, Richmond, and St. Bonaventure. Their loses came against, well, everyone else. Granted, Duquesne has only seen appearances in three games from Amanda Kalin, and limited production from Laia Sole. Even Libby Bazelak has seen some offensive struggles, and averages just 9.4 points per game. The rest test which be next season, after nearly all of Duquesne’s roster cornerstones graduate after this season.
#11 Saint Louis
Overall record: 9-17
Conference record: 5-9
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more snake-bitten team in all of college basketball in the last two years than this Saint Louis team. If last year was marked by COVID outbreak after COVID outbreak, this year has been marked by an injury decimated lineup (in addition to further COVID outbreaks in January). Seemingly half the roster has suffered from season-ending injuries, and Natalie McNeal is the only Billiken to play in all 26 contests for SLU this season. This doesn’t even take into account losing Myriama Smith Traore to an injury before the season had even started. There is little doubt that with a healthy Saint Louis team would have vastly out-performed what this team has this season, as they have routinely used only six or seven players a game for the better part of a month. But in the absence of depth, their stars have stepped up. Brooke Flowers leads the A-10 in blocks per game and blocked shots per game (3.3 and 80 respectively), and ranks fifth and third in the nation for the same categories. Just one week ago, she posted a season-high 7 blocks at George Mason, SLU’s first round opponent, in addition to 12 points and 16 rebounds. Not to be outdone, Ciaja Harbison ranks third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 17.8 points per game, and both were a big reason why Saint Louis enters Wilmington with some momentum. It’s safe to say, SLU is the Pillow Fight team that no single-bye team wants to see, and Fordham awaits on Thursday if the Billikens can get past George Mason.
#12 George Washington
Overall record: 11-17
Conference record: 4-11
Year one of the Caroline McCombs era was also going to be challenging, with the Colonials adding nine new roster pieces before the start of the season. Figuring out lineups and player rotation took the better part of three months, and GW was the last A-10 team to secure their first conference win of the season, which came at Duquesne on February 9. After their 0-8 start, George Washington rattled off four straight wins in the span of just seven days, over Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, and George Mason. Granted, the Colonials dropped their final three contests of the season after that streak was snapped, but in that time, GW found offensive rhythm they have lacked all season long. As a team, GW ranks dead-last in the A-10 in both points per game (51.3) and in field goal percentage (34%). In the same categories nationally, the Colonials rank 344th and 340th out of 348 Division I Women’s Basketball teams. All that said, George Washington has only lost twice this season when scoring 55 points or more in a game, and both came back in non-conference play.
#13 St. Bonaventure
Overall record: 12-15
Conference record: 4-12
This St. Bonaventure team has been incredibly difficult to understand this season. True, they posted a impressive-looking 8-3 non-conference record, but just ONE of their non-conference wins finished in the top-270 of the NET Rankings (Marshall at #161). Richmond and La Salle are by far the Bonnies best wins ofthe season, at #122 and #143 in the NET. In other words, St. Bonaventure despite having 12 wins, has just three top-200 wins. They closed out the regular season with six consecutive loses, including at home to George Mason in the regular season finale. Despite all of this, Asianae Johnson has emerged as one of the top scorers in the Atlantic 10, and she ranks second in the league in scoring at 18.2 points per game, but 0.4 behind A-10 leader Anna DeWolfe. The Bonnies split the season series with their First Round opponent, George Washington, and they do have a win against their would-be Second Round opponent La Salle. That said, I would not expect St. Bonaventure’s stay in Wilmington to be a long one.
#14 George Mason
Overall record: 9-18
Conference record: 3-12
While their record may not look like much on paper, this George Mason team is MUCH improved from one year ago. The Patriots have by far the best win of any Atlantic 10 team this year, defeating Florida 75-71 on December 1. Mason finally snapped their nearly two-year winless drought in A-10 conference games when they defeated Revolutionary Rival George Washington 52-46 on January 29. The Patriots also won a pair of road games, taking down Davidson on February 2, and St. Bonaventure on the final day of the regular season. Additionally, George Mason did face their first round opponent, Saint Louis, just one week ago, when the Billikens cruised to a 58-35 win at EagleBank Arena. Amaya Scott is the player to watch for the Patriots, as she leads the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Keep an eye on sophomore point guard Taylor Jameson too- she has posted 20-point performances in two of Mason’s final four games of the season.
First Round: March 2
1:30 ET: #12 George Washington vs #13 St. Bonaventure (ESPN+)
4:00 ET: #11 Saint Louis vs #14 George Mason (ESPN+)
Second Round: March 3
11:00 ET: #8 Duquesne vs #9 Davidson (ESPN+)
1:30 ET: #5 La Salle vs #12/13 (ESPN+)
5:00 ET: #7 Saint Joseph’s vs #10 Duquesne (ESPN+)
7:30 ET: #6 Fordham vs #11/14 (ESPN+)
Quarterfinals: March 4
11:00 ET: #1 Dayton vs #8/9 (ESPN+)
1:30 ET: #4 VCU vs #5/12/13 (ESPN+)
5:00 ET: #2 Rhode Island vs #7/10 (ESPN+)
7:30 ET: #3 UMass vs #6/11/14 (ESPN+)
Semifinals: March 5
11:00 ET: #1/8/9 vs #4/13/5/12 (CBSSN)
1:30 ET: #2/7/10 vs #3/14/6/11 (CBSSN)
Finals: March 6
2:00 ET: #1/8/9/4/13/5/12 vs #2/7/10/3/14/6/11 (ESPN2)
Predictions time! What’s March without filling out a bracket and getting absolutely none of it right?! I had to pick a few upsets, because you know there always are plenty! At any rate, this is what I’m rolling with: