It’s that time of year again in college basketball: conference tournaments. Though the Atlantic 10 has a different venue than usual this season, we should still expect to see all of the upsets and shocking moments that occur every season. Pittsburgh is going to be a wild ride, so you better strap in. We got opinions from Grant Labedz, Mat-Shelton-Eide, Jack Godar, Joel Revo, and Daniel Frank. Here’s A10 Talk’s take on the tourney.
Who will win the A-10 Tournament?
Grant Labedz: Dayton. The Flyers are coming off a beautiful home win over VCU, and though they fell to a red-hot Colonials team on the road, I still think they’re the best in the conference. Dayton hasn’t won since 2003, but with a really talented senior class, this feels like it’s going to be the year.
Mat Shelton-Eide: Despite a treacherous path to the trophy, I think Dayton finds a way to win this thing. They are experienced, well-coached and the type of balanced team you want when you have to win three consecutive games in three days in an unfamiliar hockey arena. It’s been a long time coming but I think the Flyers add an A-10 tourney championship trophy to their case this season.
Jack Godar: Dayton—It’s so hard to go against such an experienced and effective core in conference tournament play.
Joel Revo: VCU. Two things that make or break teams in do-or-die games: defense and pedigree. VCU has both, with a stifling defense, and a previous A-10 championship. If they get hot from behind the arc too (though they haven’t been recently, they’re due to get some to fall), they’ll be hard to beat.
Daniel Frank: Dayton. Despite their uninspiring performance Saturday night, the Flyers are, in my opinion, the best coached team in the A-10. That will translate to March success.
Who’s your dark horse team for the tournament?
Grant Labedz: George Washington. The Colonials have won 5 in a row, and I think they’re one of the most underrated teams in the conference. If this team stays as hot as it was against Dayton, it’s going to be very tough to beat. As a 6 seed, I think the Colonials could take down Richmond and advance to the semifinals.
Mat Shelton-Eide: The bottom half of the bracket is loaded with dark horses AND also presents a potentially easier path for someone “new” to reach the final. I like the Spiders as a legit sleeper to actually win this thing, but don’t be surprised if a Mason or GW finds themselves in the final and one win away from an unexpected NCAA tournament appearance.
Jack Godar: Saint Louis. I go to Holy Cross, and just to refresh everyone’s memory, Holy Cross won the Patriot League and went to the NCAA Tournament despite winning only 10 games prior to the conference tourney. Hope springs eternal.
Joel Revo: Davidson. Although they only won 8 conference games, the Wildcats can catch fire for a few nights if Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge both get hot. If they can get by La Salle, a win against Dayton, who they have already taken to the brink, wouldn’t be out of the question.
Daniel Frank: George Washington. The Colonials have won five in a row, and six of their last seven. They’re arguably the hottest team in the conference heading into Pittsburgh.
Who will be the most lethal player in the tournament/
Grant Labedz: Hassan Martin. Rhode Island’s senior went for 21 points and 13 rebounds to help lead the Rams past Davidson. This Rhode Island team knows that it’s firmly on the bubble, and if it doesn’t show up in Pittsburgh, it could very well end up in the NIT. Expect Martin to continue to play on this level.
Mat Shelton-Eide: Hard to argue with the numbers of T.J. Cline, so if he can lead the Spiders to a final he will have probably scored around 90 points, grabbed 30ish rebounds and dished some 25 assists in a matter of three days. I also like Charles Cooke to potentially play the De’Andre Bembry role of “best player on the best team” in what could be a magical week for a dude who was on track to graduate from JMU last year.
Jack Godar: Jaylen Adams. Adams and Matt Mobley’s stats always just amaze me, and I think that Adams is going to go off.
Joel Revo: T.J Cline. After Cline’s triple-double on senior night, he should be the heavy favorite for POY. Every time the Spiders have needed him this year, he comes through with a huge game. The tournament should be no different.
Daniel Frank: E.C. Mathews. This kid is hitting his stride at the right time, and has already shown his ability to put URI on his back.