We made it through November! All things considered, it’s been a pretty solid month for the Atlantic 10 who realistically has 2 teams trending towards an at-large bid and a few others knocking on the door. Feast Week may be past us, but there are still plenty of big at-large opportunities remaining.
On the Right Side of the Bubble
Dayton: After picking up wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia (and not just wins, blowouts…), and losing an overtime battle to now #2 Kansas, the Flyers look to be solidly in the field heading into December. Dayton is #19 in the most recent AP Poll, and the Flyers have 2 great opportunities remaining: Saint Mary’s and Colorado, both on a neutral floor. If Dayton wins both of those and ends up a 1 loss team come conference play, we’re looking at an Atlantic 10 team that’s knocking on the door of the top 10… I’m a bit more confident in the Colorado game in Chicago, because Dayton should make that feel like a home game.
VCU: The Rams went 0-2 in the Emerald Coast Classic, but their 2 losses came by a combined 6 points, and the Rams still boast a top 35 win over LSU on their home court. Without a bad loss and with a good win over a top tier SEC team, the Rams are on the right side of the bubble heading into December. There aren’t a lot of great non-conference resume-building opportunities left, but on the road against Wichita St. will certainly present a challenge. If VCU can fix the turnover bug and win that game in a hostile environment, it’s NCAA Tournament stock will continue to rise headed into January.
Work to Do
Rhode Island: The Rams have performed well in the “games they should win” throughout the season, but they’ve unfortunately fallen short in their big opportunities: Maryland, LSU, and West Virginia. Two big games are on the horizon at home against Providence and Western Kentucky, but wins against both won’t be enough to prove URI deserves to be a tournament team this early on. Rhode Island will need to go into conference play and prove itself with a 3rd place finish that includes a win over Dayton/VCU.
Richmond: I really like where Richmond is at given its schedule; the Spiders have done just about as well as they could’ve hoped from a W/L standpoint up to this point and boast a win over Wisconsin. That said, the rest of UR’s non-conference schedule isn’t a cakewalk, and if Richmond wants to start creeping onto the bubble, I think a win over Alabama on the road would go a long way. This is another team that is probably going to have to prove itself in conference play, but hey, the Spiders are playing really well right now and even received 2 votes in this week’s AP Poll.
Saint Louis: Saint Louis is kind of in the same boat as Richmond; they also missed on a big opportunity (Seton Hall is to SLU what Auburn is to UR), but that is the Billikens’ only loss, and more opportunities remain. Saint Louis also has an impressive home win over Belmont. If the Billikens could manage to beat Auburn later this month and avoid any bad losses, they would definitely be on the bubble. Unfortunately, as good as their record has been, they haven’t had enough big wins to prove themselves worthy of an NCAA Tournament look. If SLU can head into conference play with just 2 losses (likely a loss to Auburn but in an ideal world, a win over Kansas St.), it might start getting some attention.
George Mason: Off to an incredible 8-1 start, George Mason is kind of in the same boat as Saint Louis; the Patriots have a good win (over New Mexico St. on a neutral court), but beyond that, most this team’s wins have been over cupcakes, and that’s not enough to get the attention of the bracket. Mason will have to close out the non-conference schedule undefeated to have a shot at creeping up onto the bubble, and that would include a win over TCU on the road. If George Mason can finish 3rd in the league and pick up some big wins while avoiding catastrophic losses, I think it’d have a chance at an at-large come March.
Unlikely, but It’s a Long Season
Duquesne: The only reason I’m putting undefeated Duquesne down here compared to Richmond, Saint Louis, and George Mason is because of the Dukes’ easy non-conference schedule that’s unlikely to do them any favors with the Selection Committee. As I’ve mentioned, even if the Dukes go undefeated before league play, I’d be surprised if they’re even on the bubble, as they won’t play a team in the Kenpom top 100. Given the easy strength of schedule, Duquesne would have to be a 4 or 5 loss team in March to have a shot.
Need to win the A-10 Tournament
Davidson: The Wildcats have pretty much given up any chance at an at-large without 15+ wins (and I mean good wins) in conference play. Losing to Marquette, Auburn, and Temple represent some major missed opportunities, and unfortunately, Charlotte is a very bad loss on the resume. I know Davidson tends to get better in conference play, but that won’t lead to an NCAA Tournament berth without a win in Brooklyn. Davidson’s 2017-18 team had a similar poor start (5-7), yet ended up #43 in Kenpom and won the A-10 Tournament, but the Wildcats weren’t that close to getting an at-large bid.
St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have bounced back since Osun Osunniyi returned, and they managed to win down in Boca Raton, but we all know that (and the remaining non-con opportunities) won’t be enough to put the Bonnies on the bubble. They could roll through conference play and be much-improved come January, but it’s still going to be “Brooklyn or Bust” for the Bonnies’ NCAA Tournament chances.
La Salle: La Salle has been better recently, and winning the Gulf Coast Showcase was a great victory for Ashely Howard, but this is still not an at-large team.
Massachusetts: I’ve been very impressed with Massachusetts given preseason expectations, but everyone knows this team is young, and this is not the year for an at-large. I’m curious to see how this team plays its next few non-conference games, but an at-large bid is not in the picture.
Saint Joseph’s: I think this one’s pretty obvious after the embarrassing home loss to St. Francis PA. The Hawks are a few years away. I still really like Billy Lange.
Fordham: Not much to say here… their OOC won’t get them there.
George Washington: Again, pretty obvious.