The Atlantic 10 finds itself in an interesting position in regards to the NCAA Tournament — if the season ended today, and Dayton won the conference tournament, the Flyers may be the only team dancing. That being said, there are 3 other teams (VCU, Rhode Island, & Richmond) that might be 3 or 4 spots from the bubble. Depending on how the season ends, the A-10 can get anywhere from 1 to 4 bids.
The Flyers are the only clear lock at this point, popping up as a 2 seed in most Bracketology predictions. Dayton is now 4-2 in Quadrant 1 games and doesn’t have a loss in the Q2, Q3, or Q4 category. Dayton’s also proven its ability to win on the road. The Flyers got a gutsy win in overtime against Saint Louis and took care of business against Richmond at the Robins Center. Kenpom currently gives Dayton a 19.2% chance of finishing the regular season undefeated, and the best remaining chances are Rhode Island and VCU (important opportunities for those teams to build their resumes). If Dayton somehow goes 18-0 in league play, we’ll be looking at a team that could get a 1 seed this year. More realistically, the Flyers lose a game or 2 (and maybe one in the A-10 Tournament) and fall closer to the 3 line.
On the Bubble
It feels like VCU is the biggest coin flip of any team on the bubble. They’ve been hovering around it all season and seem to be one or two big wins away from catapulting up into the field of 68. The win at home over LSU is currently keeping the Rams afloat, and they’ve certainly looked better in their last 3 contests, beating St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s, and La Salle handedly. VCU still has 4 Quadrant 1 opportunities, remaining, meaning it has a chance to prove it’s worthy of dancing: vs. Dayton is the biggest one, but they’ll also play @ Rhode Island, @ Richmond, and @ Saint Louis.
Having won 6 straight, Rhode Island is a lot closer to the bubble than it was a few weeks ago. A bad loss to Brown stung, but the Rams have recovered with a true road win over VCU, and most recently, a true road win over St. Bonaventure. URI is 4-1 in Quadrant 2 games with only 1 bad loss (@ Brown), and still has some good opportunities (vs. Dayton and vs. VCU). Rhode Island has a favorable schedule coming up and should be the favorite in its next 4 games. If the Rams get to 4-1 in league play (scoring another win over VCU), and assuming other bubble teams will lose, Rhode Island should be on the right side.
The Spiders saw their best opportunity slip away this weekend as they were unable to take down Dayton at home. The Spiders have 2 Quadrant 1 wins (vs. Wisconsin, @ Rhode Island) and 1 bad loss against Radford. If UR wants to propel itself into the tournament field, beating VCU on the road would go a long way, and beating Duquesne on the road would also help. The Spiders don’t get another shot at Dayton though, so the chance of getting a monumental win has slipped away. Without Blake Francis in the lineup, I’m skeptical Richmond is going to be able to build a strong enough resume by the end of the season. That said, they are not far off the bubble, and avoiding any horrible losses could be enough.
Work to Do
Unfortunately for the Billikens, they’ve fallen off a bit and really just need to start getting good wins. At 69th in NET and 1-4 vs. Quadrant 1 teams, SLU certainly has a decent resume, but it’s whiffed in some of its biggest opportunities. Most notably, getting beat at the buzzer against Dayton means we’re having a completely different conversation. If Saint Louis snags that win, they’re probably in, if not right on the bubble, at this point. The Billikens have an easier stretch of games coming up, but to build up its tournament resume, it’s going to have to steal one at Saint Louis or at Rhode Island.
A-10 Tournament or Bust
The Dukes had a shot a few weeks ago, but the lack of good wins is what’s really keeping them down, and a loss at Massachusetts is probably the dagger to any lingering at-large hopes. Duquesne has 0 Quadrant 1 wins and only 1 Quadrant 2 win, so it’s tough to build a resume without quality victories.
This is the point of the season where Davidson tends to pick things up, and the Wildcats have won their last 3 games, including one at home over Saint Louis. Still, Davidson’s NCAA Tournament resume isn’t making much noise with an 0-4 record against Quadrant 1 teams.
Too many bad losses at the beginning of the season have hurt St. Bonaventure, and obviously the lack of Osun Osunniyi has played a huge role. The Bonnies could end up going dancing next year. (Side note: St. Bona probably has the best OOC win of any A-10 team, beating Rutgers without Osun).
It’s obviously not the Colonials’ year, but I’ve been impressed with the way this team has been playing, and I think Jamion Christian could find a way to stay out of the play-in-game in Brooklyn.
Obviously this ship has sailed. The injury to Justin Kier hurts, but this has been a disappointing season for the Patriots on a lot of fronts.
This team is a couple of years away. Avoid roster turnover, and a class of freshmen that is this strong will eventually bring the Minutemen back to the Big Dance.
Can’t say with any confidence they’ll make the NCAA Tournament any time soon.
The Explorers haven’t played great in the conference this year, but they’ve had one of the more difficult starts, already facing Rhode Island, Richmond, Dayton, and VCU.
It’s gonna take some time for the Hawks to become relevant again.