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A-10 Tournament Bracketology: Entering the Final Week

As the regular season enters a chaotic final week, very little is set. Richmond appears to have – at least for now – surpassed Rhode Island for both the two-seed and an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, while Duquesne, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure currently sit in a three-way tie for fourth place and the final double-bye. At the other end of the standings, the chasm between the bottom four and the middle of the pack has virtually dissipated. Bad weeks from UMass and George Washington could see them forfeit their byes, in favor of LaSalle or George Mason. Let’s take a look at each seed line or group and the remaining possibilities.

1. #3 Dayton (16-0)

The Flyers are fighting to be on the top seed line in the NCAA Tournament and have already wrapped up the A-10 regular-season championship. They face a difficult trip to a hostile Ryan Center against a Rhode Island team that is scrapping for its post-Brooklyn life – and on its Senior Night, no less, with the winningest group of graduates-to-be in program history – on Wednesday but will be motivated to stay in the top four of the country. 18-0 and then a perfect conference tournament is the most likely scenario here.

Prediction: #3 Dayton (clinched)

2-6. Richmond (12-4), Rhode Island (12-4), St. Bonaventure (10-6), Duquesne (10-6), Richmond (10-6)

Disclaimer: Hypothetical with extremely low chances of occurring below.

Technically, there is a possibility (extremely remote) of a four-way tie between Richmond, Rhode Island, Duquesne and either Saint Louis or St. Bonaventure (a five-way is not possible because Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure play on the last day of the season) for second place. Note that Duquesne would have to beat Richmond as part of this hypothetical and both URI and UR would need to lose out. In that scenario, the first tiebreaker would be record against tied teams. In Subscenario A, in which Saint Louis beats St. Bonaventure, Duquesne (3-1) would surge to the second seed, and Saint Louis (2-2) would take the third. Rhode Island (1-2) and Richmond (1-2) would be tied for the final double-bye, which would be decided by UR’s victory over Rhody in the conference opener. Subscenario B, with the Bonnies beating the Billikens, is slightly more complicated. URI and Duquesne (2-1 each) would tie for the best record, with the former taking the two and the latter taking the three as a result of their one head-to-head matchup. St. Bonaventure would earn the four over Richmond (both 1-2), also due to having won their head-to-head meeting.

What about three-way ties? If it were Rhode Island, Richmond and Saint Louis, the 2-3-4 order would be SLU-UR-URI, based on their head-to-head records. If Duquesne (call it Subscenario C) or St. Bonaventure (Subscenario D) were the third team in (UR and URI are guaranteed a share of the top four), then the tiebreakers would become significantly more confusing, as both scenarios would see all three teams finish 1-1. The next step would be to use the record against conference opponents in descending order, which, obviously, would mean starting with Dayton. In Subscenario C, all three teams would be 0-2 against Dayton. The next-highest foe would be St. Bonaventure, against whom Richmond was 0-1 and the other two were 1-0. Richmond, therefore, would get the 4-seed, while Rhode Island, by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, would take the two to Duquesne’s three. In Subscenario D, St. Bonaventure’s schedule would allow the Bonnies to claim the two, since, according to the A-10 tiebreaker principles, an 0-1 record beats an 0-2. The Spiders, who defeated the Rams, would then take the 3-seed.

Returning to the realm of possibility…

It is virtually impossible that anyone other than Richmond and Rhode Island will finish 2-3, respectively, and almost certainly in that order (unless Rhode Island wins out and Richmond splits its games or URI goes 1-1 and UR 0-2). With regard to the 4-5-6 struggle, each of the remaining teams faces either one of each other (SBU/SLU) or another 2-6 team (Duquesne, who plays Richmond). The Bonnies-Billikens game is one of the largest left in the season – after Dayton-URI – and will provide an open door for Duquesne to steal a double-bye.

Prediction: (2) Richmond, (3) Rhode Island, (4) Duquesne, (5) Saint Louis, (6) St. Bonaventure

7-8. Davidson (9-7), VCU (8-8)

At the beginning of the season, these two teams were expected to be battling for the conference championship, not the last spot in the top half. Yet, here stand two of the signature programs of the A-10, looking to avoid a potential Friday date with a rested #3 Dayton. VCU has a slightly easier midweek game than Davidson (Duquesne and Richmond, respectively) and one in which its probability of success is higher than the Wildcats’ in theirs. The Rams winning and Davidson losing would set up a winner-take-all Friday night clash at Belk…for seventh place in the conference. It seems more likely, though, that the two go the same way with their results. In that case, the Friday game would still be decisive. The only way in which that contest would not affect the seeding would be if Davidson were to win and VCU to lose their seventeenth games (the midweek ones). That might well happen. UMass might be able to play its way into the conversation by winning out against LaSalle and rival Rhode Island, but that would require Davidson to lose out and VCU to go 1-1 – and even then, the Minutemen would only finish 8th.

Prediction: (7) Davidson, (8) VCU

9-12. UMass (7-9), George Washington (6-10), LaSalle (5-11), George Mason (4-12)

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is in prime position to finish in the top ten and avoid having to go through a play-in game in the A10 tournament. LaSalle, although currently one game behind GW, is primed to overtake the Colonials for the final bye. The Explorers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker (1-0) over the D.C. team and have a far easier remaining schedule. George Washington finishes up against Dayton, which is essentially a guaranteed loss, and the difficulty of their other remaining games is approximately equivalent. Most likely, the two will finish tied at 6-12 and LaSalle will use the tiebreaker to its advantage, earning the extra day of rest that can make the difference between a deep run in Brooklyn and an early exit. However, there is still the possibility that George Mason could force itself into the scene. Since the Patriots play Saint Louis during the week, their best chance of making an impact is to split their remaining games and have LaSalle lose out, in which case GMU would sneak ahead to 11th and dump LaSalle in 12th. The Explorers are unlikely to lose to both UMass and Saint Joseph’s, though, rendering Mason’s impact virtually meaningless.

Prediction: (9) UMass, (10) LaSalle, (11) GW, (12) Mason

13-14. Saint Joseph’s (2-14), Fordham (1-15)

Now, we arrive at the basement of the league and the most woeful teams in the conference. The Hawks are slightly less pitiful and have won two of their last four, while the Weakest Rams are riding a ten-game schneid. Saint Joe’s holds the head-to-head tiebreaker here, meaning that Fordham would need to win out (this would require winning two games in a row; the team has won two in the last three months) and Saint Joseph’s would have to go 0-2 for the Rams to move all the way to 13th. Spoiler alert: It won’t happen. Once again, this author is forced to ask the eternal question: Does Fordham belong in the Atlantic 10?

Prediction: (13) Saint Joseph’s, (14) Fordham