Davidson: A little more Rusty Reigel
Maybe I’m biased because I love the grit this guy plays with, but can we get a little more Rusty Reigel in our lives? Davidson’s senior is leading the Atlantic 10 in three point shooting at 15/24 (62.5%), and he always seems to get an open look from downtown. Maybe I’m crazy, but if Davidson kept getting Rusty open looks from long range, I doubt it would be disappointed with the outcome.
Dayton: Atlantic 10 play
Well, wish granted for Dayton. According to ESPN’s RPI metric, Dayton had the third hardest non-conference SOS in the nation. This may not seem right; it’s not like Dayton played Duke, Villanova, and Arizona St. However, the Flyers played 9 opponents in Kenpom’s top 160, so it’s not like they had a bunch of easy wins. Needless to say, conference play may be surprisingly easy for this young Dayton team…
Duquesne: Keith Dambrot
The Dukes have fallen in love with their first-year head coach thus far, and for good reason. He led Duquesne to 7 straight wins in the non-conference before a recent loss to Southern Illinois, and though Duquesne’s had an easy schedule, two of those wins (Lamar and San Francisco) were actually pretty impressive.
All Duquesne should want for Christmas is the continued success of its new head coach. It’s going to take some time, but Duquesne will be a program on the rise in the next few seasons. Hold your breath and believe in your coach if you’re a Duquesne fan; it’s only going to get better with Dambrot at the helm.
They got a little bit of it against West Virginia the other day, but we’d be remiss to note Fordham’s lack of offense so far. The Rams rank 315th in the nation in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom, and though freshman Ivan Raut has been a pleasant surprise, there hasn’t been much cooking outside of Will Tavares and Joseph Chartouny. Fordham’s defense is always a given; the Rams are going to need to score the basketball.
George Mason: Depth
This team has been hurt by its lack of depth, and it’s finally showing. The Patriots have fallen back to 227 in Kenpom following embarrassing losses to William & Mary and Georgia Southern at home. I’m not saying the season is over for the Patriots, but with such few bodies available, especially in the frontcourt, it’s very difficult for Paulsen’s group to get anything going. Next season should hopefully be better…
George Washington: A finish in the top half of the A-10
Given the state of the league, I honestly think this is possible this year. GW went 7-6 in non-conference play but faced a brutal slate of opponents. The Colonials only had 1 bad loss (Rider), and they even managed to sneak a surprising W over Temple. I think this team could get there, but it has to make shots. Its 48.1% effective field goal percentage won’t get it too far, even with a very weak Atlantic 10 this season.
La Salle: An extra year of eligibility for B.J. Johnson?
Unfortunately, this won’t be feasible, but La Salle has gotten all it can get from its senior. Johnson has snuck up as a dark horse for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, and in combination with Pookie Powell, the Explorers have one of the best duos in the nation. It will be a bummer when Johnson has to graduate from La Salle.
Massachusetts: This season, but also, next season
I’m sure the Minutemen are excited to see what their team can do this season, but if we’re being honest, this squad can’t wait until next year. You wouldn’t be crazy to pick Massachusetts to win the A-10 in 2018-19. This team brings back a ton of weapons from this year and adds 4 key transfers and a 3 star freshman in Samba Diallo. I love what Matt McCall’s been doing, and if you haven’t bought stock, it’s about time.
Rhode Island: Good health
The Rams seem ready to win the Atlantic 10 this year, but injuries to Cyril Langevine and E.C. Matthews in non-conference play definitely scared Rhode Island a little bit. With all of the talent on this roster, there’s no doubt this team looks like the best squad in the Atlantic 10. As long as the Rams stay healthy, they’ll be more than OK.
Richmond: Well, I think I know what the fanbase wants…
— Georgette Freda (@GeorgetteFreda) December 23, 2017
— Christian Breitenbach (@DarkOutFront) December 23, 2017
— Fire Chris Mooney (@SaveUsHardt) December 23, 2017
Saint Joseph’s: Charlie Brown’s return
It’s no secret that Saint Joseph’s hasn’t played to its full potential thus far, but Charlie Brown’s return could change that. The sophomore should be back in the lineup shortly, and when he is, I’m thinking the Hawks end up finishing 3rd in the Atlantic 10. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but I think this Saint Joseph’s team will end up being better than its non-conference record indicates.
Saint Louis: Also, the return of a number of key players
Like Saint Joseph’s, the Billikens have been missing key players that are keeping them from reaching their full potential. Elliott Welmer, Adonys Henriquez, and Jermaine Bishop are all hoping to return to action soon. The Billikens would be much better off with some added depth come conference play.
St. Bonaventure: How about a league title?
Let’s not get greedy, but following a win over Syracuse, I’m not crazy to think St. Bonaventure wants to win the Atlantic 10 this year. The sky is the limit with Jaylen Adams back in the lineup, and I really wouldn’t count out the Bonnies. It will be quite the battle between St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island this season.
VCU: A signature win
The Rams have come close, but they failed to beat a significant opponent in the non-conference slate of their schedule. Unfortunately, conference play won’t present too many options, but VCU could always pull a surprise over Rhode Island or St. Bonaventure. Luckily for the Rams, they haven’t slipped up against any inferior opponent just yet, and that’s enough to give the Rams an edge over a majority of the teams in the league.