BracketologyDavidsonDaytonDuquesneFordhamGeorge MasonGeorge WashingtonLa SalleRhode IslandRichmondSaint LouisSt. BonaventureSt. Joseph'sUMASSVCU

A10 WBB Non-Conference Grades, Metrics To Watch For Every Team

A10 conference play is here! How did every team perform in their non-conference slate? Read on below to see how this author would grade each team’s season to date.

Dayton (9-3): A
Best Win: At Purdue
Worst Loss: Mississippi State, if we have to choose 

It’s hard to be too critical of Shauna Green’s Dayton side to date. With a record of 8-3 and losses to 9-3 Mississippi State, 9-1 Duke, and 10-3 Florida, Dayton have largely taken care of business against lesser teams while putting up a good fight against the bigger opponents. The Flyers picked up a road win at Purdue, which is currently a solid Quadrant 2 win in the NET. The only thing that is preventing this grade from being an A+ is the lack of a true signature win, especially seeing George Mason’s victory over common opponent Florida (Dayton fell by three). The Flyers lead the A10 in three-point percentage while also committing the fewest turnovers in the conference. Dayton were picked to finish first in the preseason poll, and they have not done anything to suggest that they won’t be in that conversation come season’s end.

Davidson (9-3): A-
Best Win: At Charlotte
Worst Loss: At Elon

It was a surprise when Davidson were picked 11th in the preseason poll, and the ‘Cats have proved many wrong so far. After two losses to open the year, Davidson has won 10 of their last 11 games, and are poised to carry the third-best record of any team into conference play. They have good scoring and shooting metrics, with an effective field goal percentage in the top quartile, but there is reason for concern with some of their underlying numbers (particularly their assist rate, which is one of the lowest in the country, as well as the fact they commit fouls on 24% of plays). These numbers become more concerning considering their opponents; Davidson played just two games outside of Quadrants 3 and 4. Their best player to date has been Elle Sutphin, who does not start for coach Gayle Fulks. Indeed, the ‘Cats have fairly balanced individual numbers, with six players boasting individual win shares of over 1.o per HerHoopStats. Davidson will almost certainly outperform their initial ranking and are capable of picking up some big results, but it remains to be seen if they can play up against the bigger teams in the conference.

Duquesne (5-7): C+
Best Win: vs Akron
Worst Loss: at Longwood

Duquesne are another team that was likely robbed of an extra victory by a cancellation, with their final tuneup match against Cornell (291st in the NET) cancelled due to Covid concerns. The Dukes did not win a game outside of Quadrant 4, struggling against many of the bigger teams on their schedule. They dropped four of their first five contests, including a bad loss to 3-8 Longwood (263rd in the NET). Despite showing signs of life with good performances against Penn State and Kent State, the Dukes were unable to come away with the victory in either game. Most concerning, perhaps, is that their underlying numbers have been subpar against opponents who have not been world-beaters themselves. Their offensive and defensive ratings both rank in the bottom 30 percent of all teams, despite their opponents having a combined winning percentage of just 46%. The Dukes might be in for some uphill sledding come conference play.

Fordham (8-3): A+
Best Win: vs Princeton
Worst Loss: Arizona State (Neutral Site)

Everything has gone according to plan at Rose Hill the last few months. Before the season, head coach Stephanie Gaitley took real pride in their out-of-conference schedule, which is the 12th strongest of any team in the country. The Rams, led by Anna DeWolfe’s 20.2 points per game, have played three quadrant one games, more than any other A10 team. Indeed, they pushed a top-10 Baylor team to their limit for three quarters, lost on the road at #17 Notre Dame, and fell to a top-50 Arizona State team on the third day of back-to-back-to-back games in Cancun, but that has been it for losses. The Rams are a perfect 6-0 at home, including a win over Princeton (42 in NET) and Stony Brook (9-1). Fordham has been one of the better shooting teams in the country, even with numbers that have been hampered by the caliber of their opponents. After being challenged start to finish in their non-conference slate, Fordham will be a conference force to be reckoned with.

George Mason (6-6): B-
Best Win: vs Florida
Worst Loss: vs Norfolk State

George Mason might be in for a rude awakening in conference play, but the Patriots have showcased resiliency and an ability to claim impressive victories in big moments. Led by transfer Amaya Scott’s 17 points per game, Mason picked up a massive win at home over Florida which at the time took the Patriots to 6-3, but since then things have taken a turn, with bad losses to 3-7 Norfolk State and 4-7 James Madison. The Patriots are one of the better rebounding teams in the nation and earn their way to the line an impressive amount, scoring more from free throws than all but eight teams in the country; conversely, their net offensive and defensive ratings are both in the bottom 25 percent and their average scoring margin is the lowest in the conference. Mason were picked last in the conference in the preseason poll, but they have looked respectable to date. It would not be surprising if they finish in the top eight.

George Washington (7-6): B
Best Win: at Old Dominion
Worst Loss: vs Virginia

George Washington might be one of the most intriguing teams to emerge from the non-conference slate. The Colonials simply cannot score, shoot, or assist, but their defense has been stifling against non-Power Five teams. How bad is the offense? GW ranks in the bottom 10% of teams in the nation in points per game, 2 point field goal percentage,  points per play, free-throw rate, possessions, and assists per game. Their leading scorer averages just 8.4 points per game. How good is the defense? They have limited a slate of opponents that registers as the 81st most challenging in the country to just 55.5 points per game, the 34th best mark in the nation. The Colonials are an excellent rebounding team, but putting up big numbers has proved to be elusive; their highest point total of the season is 64, against DII West Chester (3-8). It’s hard to say that they’ve done too much wrong, but figuring out their offensive upside is pretty difficult at this point too.

La Salle (7-5): C+
Best Win: at Penn, I guess?
Worst Loss: vs Coppin State

This ranking might seem a little unfair on the surface. La Salle were picked to finish eighth in the conference, and their record of 7-5 puts them right at eighth. However, their out-of-conference slate was the second-lightest of any A10 team, which leaves them without a signature win. After falling in their season opener to Coppin State despite having nearly 20 extra shot attempts, the Explorers won six of their next eight, but before their final game against Villanova was called off, La Salle had lost two of three. Wins did not always come easy, as they struggled to close out an 0-12 St. Francis (PA) side, while winning by single-digits against Maryland Eastern Shore (1-8).  Kayla Spruill has been one of the better shooters in the nation from three and from the free-throw line, but the offense drops off after her and Claire Jacobs. It’s hard to grade La Salle higher than a C+ so far based on their opponents having an average winning percentage of just 40%, while boasting the second-lowest field goal percentage in the conference to date.

UMass (12-2): A+
Best Win: at Columbia
Worst Loss: Boston College, if we’re splitting hairs? 

It’s safe to say that UMass took some offense at being selected sixth in the preseason poll after an A10 championship game appearance last season. The Minutewomen rattled off seven straight wins to start the campaign, only falling to a top-15 Iowa State team after having a chance to tie the game within the final 90 seconds. A six point loss at home to 8-3 Boston College has been their only other loss, as UMass enters conference play tied for the most wins of any team in the nation despite their final matchup with 1-11 Dartmouth being postponed. The Minutewomen have two of the three most valuable players in the conference by Win Share, and four of the top seven. Indeed, if the season ended today, there would be a very good case for the entire UMass starting five to wind up on an all-conference team. They have five players averaging in double figures, the most in the conference. They lead the conference in rebound margin by as much as the next three teams combined. They have the second most total rebounds in the country and at 6th are the only mid-major team to crack the top 10 in rebound rate. Tory Verdi’s rotation is very, very tight, with four players averaging 34 minutes per game or more, but it has worked to good effect. UMass has been challenged at times – UVM, Holy Cross, and UMass Lowell all kept games close into the fourth – but the Minutewomen enter A10 play having fallen just twice, both to Power Five teams. They are the conference favorites on the eve of A10 play.

URI (10-3): A
Best Win: Princeton
Worst Loss: at Holy Cross

Unsurprisingly, URI has emerged as another of the bonafide contenders in the conference. The season started with a bang, as amidst a seven-game winning streak the Rams set a program record for points in their 103-46 win over Merrimack. Emmanuelle Tahane has been the nation’s 11th most valuable player, ahead of a number of likely WNBA first-rounders, as the former transfer has continued to stuff the stat sheet, averaging almost 5 offensive rebounds per game. The Rams would have wanted to win one of their games against Long Beach State or Buffalo for their eventual postseason resume, but their only true blemish is the puzzling loss suffered at Holy Cross. The Rams have provided stifling defense, holding opponents to 52.5 points per game to lead the conference, while a balanced offensive system coupled with above-average shooting means URI can score at all three levels. The Rams are slated to play their three biggest competitors in the opening three games of the conference season, and while those games will be telling, no one is going to want to face URI come postseason time.

Richmond (9-4): A-
Best Win: at UVA
Worst Loss: vs Charlotte

After a 2-3 start to the season, the Spiders rebounded from a rocky start to win seven of their last eight games, surging into the top 100 in NET as a result of a blowout against Coppin State. Richmond are the polar opposite of GW: they are capable of scoring at will, but so do their opponents. The Spiders have both the most turnovers and the most assists in the conference, but their real key stat has been the shooting: they shoot more than 8% better than their opponents on threes, twos, and free throws. Indeed, Richmond boasts six players in their rotation who shoot 37% or higher from 3, making them capable of an offensive explosion on any given night. If the Spiders can sustain their top-3 league-wide field goal rates on both ends of the court, they could be well poised to play spoiler.

St. Bonaventure (8-3): A-
Best Win: vs Marshall
Worst Loss: at Cleveland State 

Yes, they haven’t beaten a team with more than four wins or outside of Quadrant 4. Yes, their opponents have a total winning percentage of 38%, one of the lowest in the country. For all of that, though, the Bonnies have been a welcome surprise. At 7 wins, they’ve matched or exceeded their total wins in each of the last two seasons, and two more wins will match their season high since 2015-16. Their defensive net rating has been in the top 10% of the nation, but a grain of salt–their strength of schedule has been in the bottom 10%. Offensively, the Bonnies have found little secondary scoring outside of Asianae Johnson, shooting just 25% from three as a team. It is still likely that St. Bonaventure will find themselves playing on the first day of the conference tournament, but they’ve won every Quadrant 4 game so far while losing to the better teams on their schedule, and for that they earn an A-.

St. Joseph’s (4-8): C
Best Win: at Temple
Worst Loss: at Monmouth

The Hawks might be in a little bit of trouble. At 4-8, they have the joint-fewest wins of any team in the conference, and have one of the most imbalanced rosters in the league. Aside from star graduate student Katie Jekot, the Hawks do not have a single player with a win share of 1.0 or greater, making them uniquely dependent on Jekot to get and stay hot to keep them in games. Barring their loss to Vanderbilt, the Hawks have made every loss this year very close, and they have played some talented teams.  Eventually, if they can keep themselves in games, they will likely be able to cause some upsets, but their true fortes have yet to be made clear.

Saint Louis (4-8): C-
Best Win: Indiana State
Worst Loss: at Illinois State

Saint Louis, like Fordham, scheduled what should have been a challenging but managable schedule. Instead, a season-ending injury to star Myriama Smith-Traore has seen the Billikens falter, with bad losses to Illinois State and Northern Kentucky sending Saint Louis to the bottom of the standings. SLU was projected to finish fourth in the preseason poll, and had it not been for the challenging schedule and injury they would have gotten a lower grade. Brook Flowers is averaging a double-double, and Ciaja Harbison is putting up 16 points per game, but the loss of one of the league’s best interior presences is still a massive hole for a team that gets less than 20% of their points from three. Saint Louis are likely better than their record suggests, but they have a lot to prove in the next eight weeks.

VCU (5-5): B
Best Win: Boston College
Worst Loss: at Stetson

The Rams are another team that is set to outperform their current record. Their last three games were cancelled due to Covid concerns, and the ten-game sample size is the smallest of any team in the conference. VCU picked up one of the conference’s best wins, knocking off BC at home, and all of their losses have been within 12 points and to top-100 teams. They do an excellent job of slowing down their opponents, and the Rams have four players with win shares greater than one. A showdown with free-scoring Delaware was one of the games lost to cancellation, which would have been a good benchmark for how VCU will look within conference play. VCU has a tough time rebounding, but the Rams force more turnovers than any other A10 team and I would expect their below-average shooting numbers to regress to the mean during conference play.  The Rams are talented enough to make every game difficult, and they will not stay at .500 for long.