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Final 2016-17 Atlantic 10 Power Rankings: Rhode Island steals the top spot

A10 Talk’s weekly power rankings is a subjective list that ranks every Atlantic 10 team based on how good they are overall. This is not a direct reflection of conference standings or NCAA Tournament potential. Be sure to check out last week’s power rankings post. Here are this week’s power rankings.

1. Rhode Island Rams, Previously #3

Through the A-10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, Rhode Island powered its way along and proved to be the league’s best team this season. It took some time, but the Rams finally caught fire and showed the nation exactly who they are. How do I justify putting Rhode Island first overall? The Rams won their last 5 games of the regular season, pounded solid teams in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, easily beat Creighton in the opening round of the Big Dance, and controlled 38 minutes of a Round of 32 game against an Oregon team that made the Final Four. This was one of the most underrated teams in the nation heading into the NCAA Tournament, and if you slept on the Rams, they woke you up in a big way. Dan Hurley and E.C. Matthews will be back for more.

2. Dayton Flyers, Previously #1

Despite a very successful season that included two wins over Rhode Island, a win over VCU, and an A-10 regular season championship, the Flyers didn’t come to play in March. Dayton’s defense got run out of the building by a hot-shooting George Washington team to finish the regular season. Dayton got ousted in the first round of the A-10 Tournament by Davidson, and then a tough first round draw against an under seeded Wichita State team led to a first round exit of the Big Dance. There will be a lot of changes for Dayton next season. Anthony Grant has recently been hired as its next head coach, and key seniors will be departing as well.

3. VCU Rams, Previously #2

A run to the A-10 Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth is never a bad sign for the VCU Rams. Will Wade helped make it 7 straight tournament appearances for this program before deciding to leave for LSU. VCU had an impressive season, and though they’d have liked to get a win or two in the NCAA Tournament, they got one of the toughest draws in a Saint Mary’s team that plays a very similar style of basketball. Mike Rhoades will be the new head coach for VCU, and he’ll have to utilize young and incoming talent next season.

4. Richmond Spiders, Previously #4

Richmond finishes the season in the 4 spot and really blew away anyone’s expectations after conference play began. This team made a tremendous turnaround from a 6-6 start in non-conference play to a 3rd place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Spiders almost beat VCU to advance to the A-10 Tournament Championship game, and Chris Mooney’s squad even managed to win 2 games in the NIT this year. Well done Richmond.

5. St. Bonaventure Bonnies, Previously #5

The Bonnies fell short to Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and that’d be the end of their season. Honestly, finishing 5th in these power rankings, St. Bonaventure did pretty well for itself and should have a lot to look forward to next season. Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley are both going to be back, and this really feels like it’s going to be the year the Bonnies make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

6. Davidson Wildcats, Previously #7

Though the Wildcats’ record may not have shown it, they were probably one of the most talented teams in the league this year. Davidson was the 4th highest ranked A-10 team according to Kenpom. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t always close out games, and some of the league’s easier opponents managed to topple Davidson time and time again. Davidson’s upset win over Dayton in the A-10 Tournament was the epitome of Jack Gibbs’ career. He’ll be missed, but the Wildcats return a very talented senior class led by stud forward Peyton Aldridge

7. George Washington Colonials, Previously #6

George Washington has a lot to celebrate finishing 6th in the Atlantic 10 under Maurice Joseph and competing successfully in the post-season. This team earned a trip to the CBI with an interim head coach, and despite a second round exit, Joseph undoubtedly got this program moving in the right direction. Next year could prove challenging for the Colonials’ newly promoted head coach, but he seems more than up to the task.

8. George Mason Patriots, Previously #8

George Mason had one of the scrappiest and most surprising teams this season. Led by Marquise Moore and Otis Livingston II, this team never failed to put up a fight against the leads top dogs, and if it weren’t for a season-sweep at the hands of Saint Louis, this team would have quietly had one of the best records in the league. I think it’s no secret that Dave Paulsen has been an excellent head coach with the Patriots. The key, moving forward, is going to be finding someone who can replace the scoring and rebounding Moore brought to the table.

9. La Salle Explorers, Previously #9

La Salle really fell off the deep end towards the end of the season and lost its mojo that carried it to a 5-1 start in conference play. B.J. Johnson has decided to test his luck in the NBA Draft without an agent, but it’s likely going to be for a mere evaluation. I expect him to be back for the Explorers, and they look like they’ll again have the talent to potentially finish in the top half of the league. It’s going to come down to execution and coaching though, because those areas were much lacking towards the end of the season for the Explorers.

10. Fordham Rams, Previously #10

Fordham, all-in-all, had a decent enough season to land it 10th in this year’s final Atlantic 10 Power Rankings. The Rams had enough in the tank to pull off a few upset wins here and there, and they almost beat George Mason in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Unfortunately, this next season looks troublesome as a number of players are deciding to transfer out of the program. I don’t see this team winning 7 conference games next season.

11. Saint Louis Billikens, Previously #11

Give Saint Louis quite a bit of credit. Travis Ford knew that this wasn’t going to be his year, as his top recruits have yet to take the stage, but he still managed to make strides in comparison to the previous season. I love the future of this program with all of these newcomers. The question for Ford becomes whether or not he can thoroughly coach them and lead them back to the top of the Atlantic 10 standings. I’m optimistic.

12. Massachusetts Minutemen Previously #12

This was a pretty disappointing season for the Minutemen who really blew it once conference play began. This team had a chance to finish in the top half of the league, but bad coaching led the Minutemen to a 12th place finish in the league, and it cost Derek Kellogg his job. Expect a turnaround next season under Matt McCall.

13. Saint Joseph’s Hawks, Previously #13

There’s not much that can be said about this Saint Joseph’s season other than the fact that it was unlucky. Phil Martelli was going through a rebuilding year to begin with, and he also had to deal with countless injuries of his best players. I expect the Hawks to be back in full force next season with revitalized guards and an up-and-coming star in Charlie Brown. This team will be good again.

14. Duquesne Dukes, Previously #14

Duquesne’s season was pretty awful, and there’s no way to sugarcoat that. Mike Lewis II and Isiaha Mike were the only two bright spots, and they may be leaving the program. There is a lot of optimism right now though, as Akron’s Keith Dambrot has been hired as the Dukes’ next head coach. He’ll have an opportunity to turn this program’s luck around, and I don’t think the Dukes could’ve gotten a much better hire.

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