Our first college basketball Saturday of the season is headlined by Rhode Island taking on Maryland on the road and includes some solid home/away tests for the rest of the Atlantic 10.
Massachusetts @ Fairfield
The Minutemen impressed in their home opener, taking care of business against UMass Lowell thanks to 23 points from TJ Weeks. A road game against Fairfield looks to be a pretty even fight and a game Massachusetts really needs to win with some more difficult non-con games approaching. Fairfield really struggled with turning the ball over last season and shot just 2/12 from deep in its home opener against Bucknell. Massachusetts will get tested on the glass, however, as the Stags are one of the taller teams in the country. The Minutemen were -8 on the glass against UMass Lowell, which gives me caution. I think this will be a 50/50 game that could come down to the last possession.
Pick ATS: Fairfield +3.5
George Washington vs. Howard
The Colonials’ home opener is against a Howard team that lost to Washington Adventist this past week — not good. George Washington is the obvious favorite, but this team is coming off a road loss to Towson to start the season. The Colonials let Towson go 58.3% from three point land, which absolutely isn’t going to cut it. GW needs to be sharper on the defensive end and limit its own turnovers. Until this team proves me wrong, I don’t think the Colonials have a double-digit win in them yet.
Pick ATS: Howard +12.5
La Salle vs. Iona
It’s time to see what Ashley Howard’s group can bring to the table this year as the Explorers open up at home against Iona. The Gaels finished last season winning 10 straight before falling to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. Iona returns a lot of juniors now seniors from last year’s group and look to be improved heading into this year. La Salle’s non-conference schedule is a challenging start, as the Explorers will have to face Penn, Temple, Murray St., and Villanova next. The Explorers need to come out and get a big win over the MAAC champs.
Pick ATS: La Salle +1
Dayton vs. Indiana St.
Dayton is another group we’ve yet to see in action as the Flyers take on Indiana St. at home. The Sycamores got most of their points from inside the arc last season but only shot 46.7% from two. Dayton was nearly 60% from two point range last season thanks to Obi Toppin’s high percentage shots at the rim. If Dayton’s transfers are as good as advertised, this game should be no problem at all.
Pick ATS: Dayton -12.5
Saint Louis vs. Valparaiso
Saint Louis impressed from tip to finish on Tuesday as Florida Gulf Coast never really had a chance. Most notably, the Billikens’ offense came to life and tried to hush some major preseason concerns about where this team would get its scoring. I’m high on the Billikens as long as Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French don’t have off nights during the same contest. Valparaiso is not a very good shooting team, meaning the Billikens can ride their physical defense to get this win.
Pick ATS: Saint Louis -9
Rhode Island @ Maryland
I’ve yet to see Maryland play this season, but the Terrapins obviously return a very strong team with a lot of key pieces, especially in the backcourt. Jeff Dowtin and Fatts Russell are going to have to be absolute money on both ends of the floor if Rhode Island wants a shot at winning this game. Together, the two combined for 10 assists and 0 turnovers against Long Island. Langevine will be matched up against the physically imposing Jalen Smith which will be a great matchup to watch. Tyrese Martin could be the X-Factor for Rhode Island if he gets going early and finds a way to score some points. This is an uphill battle by all means, and while I think Maryland gets the win, URI will make it tough on the Terps.
Pick ATS: Rhode Island +11.5
Grant Labedz 2019-20 A-10 Record ATS: 8-6