Welcome to A10Talk’s series of Atlantic 10 Bracketology. Throughout the year we’ll be providing updates on where teams stand in regards to making the NCAA Tournament. Lets take a look at this week’s edition.
With one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country, Rhode Island is doing all it can to prove it deserves an at-large bid. With wins over Seton Hall and Providence, the Rams boast quality victories good enough to get them into the field of 68. Further, they don’t have any bad losses and have also played Virginia, Alabama, and Nevada very closely. As of right now, this is a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team, and if the Big Dance started today, I’m going to guess Dan Hurley’s club gets an 8 or a 9 seed.
ESPN’s RPI ranks Rhode Island 21st with 5th hardest strength of schedule in the country. Unfortunately, those numbers should drop when the Rams start facing A-10 opponents, but at the same time, I expect this club to get a huge record boost throughout conference play.
On the Right Track
Were the tournament to start today, I don’t think St. Bonaventure is in consideration for an at-large bid. However, the Bonnies are making positive strides and could be a tournament team by the end of the season. The only thing holding St. Bonaventure back right now is that home loss to Niagara. You could argue that the Bonnies made up for it with a win over Maryland, but I’m not sure that win and a second place finish in a weak A-10 would be enough. Bottom line: Bona needs to finish non-conference play without a bad loss (and maybe even pick up a road win over Syracuse) and then have a very unscathed showing throughout league play to have a chance.
Down but Not Out
Davidson, VCU, Dayton
I’m keeping these three teams “around” essentially because I think all have an outside chance at making the NCAA Tournament this year. However, when I say “outside,” I really do mean outside; it will take quite a lot.
Davidson probably has the best chance because of its challenging out-of-conference slate remaining: the Wildcats have a road contest against Virginia and could pick up quality wins against either Miami (FL) or USC in the Diamond Head Classic. If Davidson enters A-10 play with more than 5 losses and no quality wins, there’s pretty much no shot for the Wildcats to earn an at-large. VCU has unfortunately ran through all of its chances at a resume-boosting win, as Texas, Virginia, Marquette, and Michigan slipped through the Rams’ hands. Barring a miracle win at Seton Hall, this team just won’t have enough good wins to show for by the end of the season.
Dayton has a very outside shot in that a road win over Saint Mary’s could go a long way, and this team impressed almost taking down Mississippi St. despite a horrible day protecting the basketball. That said, it’s going to take the Flyers losing no more than 2 or 3 games the rest of the season to have any sort of shot at making the Big Dance without an automatic bid.
Down and Just About Out
George Washington, St. Joseph’s, La Salle
I would have had La Salle as a potential sleeper had the Explorers not just lost to Towson and then Drexel at home. Saint Joseph’s looks like its out of gas even if it gets fully healthy this year. George Washington won’t have a quality resume to keep it in the picture come March. It’d take a miracle (winning out the rest of the season) to even get any of these teams on the bubble.
Richmond, Fordham, Duquesne, Massachusetts, Saint Louis, George Mason
Richmond is now 1-8. Fordham won’t finish non-conference play with a winning record this year. Duquesne’s bunny non-conference schedule that ranks 320th in difficulty has led to just a 4-3 start. Saint Louis has lost to Western Michigan and Detroit at home while the Minutemen are now just 4-5. It’s “better luck next year” for these teams moving forward.