The first weekend of college hoops is officially in the books, a weekend that saw regular season openers by the majority of A-10 teams. Some faired well, others, not so much. But we’ve gotten our first peek at how some teams and players actually perform against live DI competition.
68-58, Charlotte v Charleston Southern
65-55, St. Bonaventure v Bethune-Cookman
84-42, Richmond v Liberty
117-75, Xavier v Fairleigh Dickinson
80-57, VCU v Florida Gulf Coast
76-59, St. Louis v USC Upstate
74-59, Butler v Elon
74-61, Dayton v Arkansas State
73-66, La Salle v Delaware
66-69, Duquesne @ Albany
55-67, Rhode Island @ Norfolk State
76-86, Fordham @ Texas State
73-80, GW v Youngstown State
55-61, Duquesne @ Georgetown
Dee Davis (Xavier) – 22 pts, 15 asts, 4 rebounds, 8-11 shooting, 5-7 from three
Briante Weber (VCU) – 13 pts, 10 stls, 3 asts, 6-7 shooting in just 18 minutes of play
Eye-Popping Stats of the Week
Xavier out-rebounds Fairleigh Dickinson 41-11
VCU grabs 20 steals (10 by Weber), forces 25 turnovers
Yes, the regular season has begun, but we all know a lot of these early season games are meant for breaking in squads, shaking off rust, and adding some Ws to the regular season record. Still, Xavier fans have to be happy with how efficient the new-look Musketeers looked in a blowout of Fairleigh Dickinson, VCU fans no doubt loved to see their squad still wreaking havoc, and several other squads certainly enjoyed the double-digit wins that will provide their fan base a sense of hope for what’s certainly going to be a brutal A-10 regular season. On the other hand, fans of Rhode Island, Fordham, Duquense and GW saw some early wind let out of their sales, as the bottom half of the A-10 certainly faired like the bottom half of a conference, unfortunately in some very winnable games in the OOC schedule. Rhode Island in particular faces an incredibly challenging non-conference slate, facing four BCS teams in their next seven games, not to mention a tough home game against a George Mason team that just knocked off the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers, as well as another against a solid Vermont program that took out the always competitive Sienna on the road. Dan Hurley may very well be the savior for the Rams, but Ram fans will have to be VERY patient as he attempts to get the URI train back on the tracks, especially this season where their reserve will most certainly be tested.
This Week’s Marquee Games
Harvard @ UMass (Tues, 10AM on ESPN) – The Crimson may have lost some shine after a cheating scandal knocked both teams captains of this year’s roster, but Harvard has been a solid program the past several years, and even without Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, must still be respected by a UMass squad with high hopes this season.
Temple @ Kent State (Tues, 12PM on ESPN) – The Owls tip their season up with a roadie against a very challenging Kent State squad who’s coming off a big home win against Drexel. These kinds of road Ws are what Temple AND the A-10 need most this season.
Butler @ Xavier (Tues, 4PM on ESPN) – You’ll need to take the two hours after the Temple game to get everything done this Tuesday, because it seems as if there is an endless amount of great hoops games on ESPN that day. This is the very rare non-conference game that pits to A-10 teams against each other. So while it technically won’t count against either’s A-10 record, it will be a great way to gauge what two teams predicted in the middle to top of the league are capable of this season. Hey Butler, welcome to the A-10…sorta.
Wichita State @ VCU (Tues, 7PM on ESPN) – This will be the third straight year these squads have played. The first saw VCU defeat WSU with 0.8 seconds in Wichita in 2011. That win ended up being crucial to VCU’s bid to the NCAA tournament that saw them dance all the way to the Final 4, where as Wichita was resigned to NIT duties, where they went on to win that tournament. The next year the Shockers were a chic pick to take their No.5 seed to the Final 4, a la VCU. Unfortunately for Gregg Marshall’s club, they drew VCU in the first round and were bounced just as VCU had bounced higher seeds the previous year. The Shockers are also lead by Carl Hall, a previous VCU commit. Think there won’t be some heckling in that one?
Dayton v. Colorado (in Charleston, SC, Thurs, 12:30PM on ESPN3) – The Flyers get a great opportunity to take out a BCS squad on a neutral site in this one. And like the Temple at Kent State battle, the A-10 will need these road/neutral site victories if the league is to get in as many teams to this year’s NCAA tournament as we’ve seen predicted this preseason. Also a bit of a step up in competition from Dayton’s previous Arkansas State, so we should know a bit more about just how legit the Flyers are after Thursday.
Providence @ UMass (Thurs, 7:30PM on ESPNU) – Providence is often Big East in name only, but they’re still a potential BCS head to hang on the Minutemen’s wall come tourny selection time. It’s simple, you want to dance, you gotta win these games…especially when they are before a nationally televised audience.
#22 Notre Dame v. St. Joseph’s (in Brooklyn, Fri, 9:30PM on TRU) – Hawks should come into this one 1-0 after an easier matchup against Yale earlier in the week, but will get their first real test of the season, not to mention the nation’s first chance to see just how good the top of the A-10 is. Hawks, you were picked to win the league. No go beat ND and make us all proud.
Richmond @ Minnesotta (Sun, 7PM on BTN) – This one will wrap up a busy week for a Golden Gophers squad that has received some nice preseason attention. So think of that as a chance for Chris Mooney and the Spiders to grab some attention of their own, and put the A-10 on notice that they are more than just a middle of the pack team in this conference. This will be the third game in six days for both squads, so whoever has the freshest legs may be able to pull off a nice OOC victory in this one.