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Atlantic 10 Opening Night: Picks & Predictions

Duquesne vs. Princeton

The Dukes get a solid test to start off the season against the Tigers, picked to finish 4th in the Ivy league this year. Kenpom has Princeton ranked 182nd compared to Duquesne at 110. This game starts a home stretch for the Dukes that lasts 3 games, and they won’t play a true road game until January. I like Duquesne’s chances against a Princeton team that really struggled to shoot the basketball last season (338th in the nation), and defense will be key for a Dukes team that struggled mightily at that end of the floor at the end of last season. It might be a battle from tip to finish, but Duquesne should get the W.

Pick ATS: Duquesne -5.5

George Mason vs. Navy

The Patriots open up at home in a game they should win, and GMU is looking for any start better than last season where they lost their first 3 non-conference games. Navy, a sub-300 Kenpom team entering the season, was a very poor shooting team last year en route to a 12-19 record. I wouldn’t expect this game to be much of an issue for George Mason, though the loss of Justin Kier means some of the inexperienced guys will need to step up for this team. I see a slow start followed by Mason pulling away for the win.

Pick ATS: George Mason -10.5

Massachusetts vs. UMass Lowell

The Minutemen enter the 2019-20 season with a lot to prove after losing a lot of last years stars to the transfer portal. While fans will argue many losses were addition by subtraction, this team still has a lot of new faces and is really banking on the development of sophomores Sy Chatman and Samba Diallo. Tre Mitchell is the star recruit for the Minutemen who’s expected to fill a major hole down low and provide immediate offensive production. Carl Pierre will have to be much more than a three point shooter this season. I think this one will come down to the wire with the Minutemen squeaking it out at the end.

Pick ATS: UMass Lowell +5.5

George Washington @ Towson

The Colonials start the season with a true road game under new head coach Jamion Christian, and they too have a lot of new faces in the lineup. Jameer Nelson Jr. impressed in the Colonials’ exhibition game and looks to play significant minutes in the backcourt this year. He’ll have to make up for lost production in Terry Nolan Jr. and D.J. Williams, two transfers that were significant scorers last season. Towson is the pretty clear favorite in this one, as the Tigers return a lot of rising seniors from a team that led the nation in block percentage and was very strong on the offensive glass. I don’t see this one going the way of George Washington on opening night, but it will be a very good test right out of the gate.

Pick ATS: Towson -7

#25 VCU vs. St. Francis PA

The Rams have a lot of challenging games on their non-conference schedule, but this isn’t one of them. VCU struggled shooting the basketball last season out-of-conference, but they relied on an impressive defense to deliver key wins and get them to the NCAA Tournament. Marcus Evans is back and healthy, and the Rams are the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10. I don’t think VCU will struggle with St. Francis PA at all, and VCU’s offense will come out of the gates hot and absolutely shut down the Red Flash on defense.

Pick ATS: VCU -19.5

Saint Joseph’s vs. Bradley

I don’t know what to expect with Saint Joseph’s this year, but we should learn a lot in this opening contest. The Hawks open up as underdogs at home and face a Bradley squad that gave Michigan St. fits in the NCAA Tournament last season. Bradley brings back a lot of experience and is unsurprisingly a slight favorite in this true road game against the Hawks. The key for SJU will be Ryan Daly, the transfer out of Delaware, who already showed he’s going to be quite the volume scorer this year after a big night in the Hawks’ exhibition game. However, I’m not sure Saint Joseph’s has the depth to go toe-to-toe with a solid Mid-Major team.

Pick ATS: Bradley -2.5

St. Bonaventure vs. Ohio

The Bonnies roll into the season with 2 significant losses in Courtney Stockard and LaDarien Griffin but also return 3 stud sophomores in Osun Osunniyi, Kyle Lofton, and Dominick Welch. St. Bonaventure will try to win its 1st opening night game since the 2016-17 season when it hosts Ohio on Tuesday. The Bobcats were one of the worst shooting teams in the country last year from three point range and the free throw line. My concern with the Bonnies is where the scoring will come from other than Kyle Lofton — Welch will need to step up big, and the freshmen and transfers will also need to add scoring. Given St. Bonaventure’s history of rocky starts, I think this game could be closer than expected.

Pick ATS: Ohio +12

Saint Louis vs. Florida Gulf Coast

The Billikens get their season opener against former Dunk City after a rocky start in their exhibition game. Saint Louis will play similarly as it did last year: big, athletic, strong, and not necessarily good at shooting. The Billikens went a long time without hitting their first 3 point field goal in their exhibition game, and I’m still not sure who’s going to provide the bulk of their shooting. We will see on Tuesday night against a very bad defensive Florida Gulf Coast team.

Pick ATS: Florida Gulf Coast +9

Fordham vs. St. Francis NY

Fordham happened to schedule the easiest non-conference slate in the country according to Kenpom, meaning they might be in for a decent record heading into A-10 play — don’t be fooled. This team is not going to be very good. That said, this frontcourt could be promising, and Chuba Ohams is one of the best rebounders in the league. St. Francis NY was one of the smallest teams in the country last year and pretty poor on the glass. I’ll take the Rams in their home opener.

Pick ATS: Fordham -8

Rhode Island vs. LIU

Derek Kellogg gets a nice welcome back to the A-10 when he travels to the Ryan Center to face a Rhode Island team, and this one could get ugly early. While there is no spread for this game, Kenpom predicts a 15 point win for the Rams, and I think the margin of victory could be bigger than that. Rhode Island enters the year ready to make a statement with 2 star seniors and some impressive sophomore talent. This will be a nice tune up game for URI before they face off against #7 Maryland this weekend.

 

Grant Labedz 2019-20 A-10 Record ATS: 0-0