WHO THE HELL IS JORDAN ROLAND?
Heading into this season I was EXTREMELY bearish on the Colonials thanks to the departures of Garino, Larsen and McDonald. Then things looked even more bleak with the dismissal of head coach Mike Lonergan. With that, I’m curious how Colonials fans feel about the team’s 8-4 start that includes a 3-4 start against the kenpom top-150. Personally I’m actually somewhat impressed.
While they haven’t faced murderers row as of late, they have won five of their last six heading into a tough road game at Miami this Thursday. While Pomeroy may be giving them no chance to win that won (11%), the Colonials have a secret weapon: Jordan Roland.
The Sophomore guard is averaging 17.3 points his last three contests after dumping a career-high 27 on Central Florida in the Colonials most recent win. It was Roland’s first 30-minute game of his career but should be his first of the week if GW wants to stay competitive. The Colonials are now 5-1 in games Roland plays 20 or more minutes including two wins over kenpom top-100 teams. GW’s only loss with Roland playing 20+ came against Penn State, a six-point L on an 11-point night for Roland, but a night the soph couldn’t hit from distance, going 0-5.
The Syracuse, NY native has hit a team-high 41.7% of his threes this season and leads the Colonials with a 121.8 offensive rating.
ON THE SUBJECT OF A-10 AT-LARGE BIDS
I’ve seen a lot of you bitching about poor non-conference performance and resumes. I seent it. But here’s something to remember when it comes to March resumes: 68 teams dance.
We tend to watch our teams and our conference in a vacuum and with that can be overly critical of the teams we’re paying attention to versus the rest of the college hoops world (351 schools). How many of you are really paying attention to the schedules of schools like Temple, Houston, Marquette, etc? Hell, Linardi has Pittsburgh in and they have a loss to Duquesne. DUQUESNE!
While it’s true the majority of the Atlantic 10 did zero to help itself in the non-conference, the league’s three top-three — basically the teams we all expected to be competing for at-large bids in the first place — are still in the hunt.
DAYTON (7-3) – ESPN’s Joe Linardi had the Flyers dancing as a No.8 seed prior to UD’s recent neutral court loss to Northwestern, a team Linardi had in his first four out. You can pencil Dayton in for a drop and most likely Northwestern into the field after that one, meaning potentially one less spot for an A-10 team. The Flyers have one last decent OOC opportunity when they host Vanderbilt this week, a team the Flyers most definitely should defeat (Commodores are 1-4 against kenpom top-100). While a win over Vandy won’t make headlines, it could eventually aid Archie Miller’s squad come March as a potential top-100 RPI win. Overall their non-conference resume is likely to look pretty week with their best win likely the road W at Alabama. According to the RPI Dayton’s best victories are at top-100 Winthrop and East Tennessee State but you can expect those ratings to drop while Bama’s climbs as conference play begins.
RHODE ISLAND (7-4) – Rhody has no bad losses, losing three current RPI top-50 games away from Kingston and own a neutral court W over Cincinnati. Their home W over ODU could come in handy but again, like Dayton will need to do the majority of their work in the A-10. Bad news is they are done in terms of non-conference opportunities. Good news is they get both Dayton and Davidson twice in conference and host VCU in the only game they’ll play this season.
VCU (8-3) – The Rams won’t get the credit they deserve but other A-10 teams need to take note on Will Wade and Co.’s smart scheduling. VCU picked up a huge win over Middle Tennessee State this week, currently a top-10 RPI win (MTSU knocked Michigan State out of last year’s tournament, returned everyone from that team and added an SEC transfer big…they will be good all season). A road win at top-100 Old Dominion could serve them well, a neutral court win over LSU (8-2) is a bit of a wild card, their home win over UNC Asheville is currently a top-75 RPI win and their W over Princeton could eventually prove to be a win over a conference champ. The Rams shot themselves in the foot with a home overtime loss to Georgia Tech, a top-150 squad VCU will need to be better than most expected this season (not likely). VCU faces two cupcakes to finish their non-conference season and should take an 10-3 record into A-10 play with a non-conference start that was better than both their 2010-2011 and 2015-2016 performances that ultimately resulted in at-large bids for the Rams.
OVERREATING TO OOC RECORDS
All schedules aren’t created equal and with that, beware of both overrating and underrating teams in terms of A-10 ranking.
POTENTIALLY UNDERRATED: RICHMOND (5-5)
Make no mistake, Spider fans have no reason to be happy about a 5-5 start. But when you look at those games I think many could be underrating Richmond prior to Atlantic 10 play. All of Richmond’s losses have been by single digits in games they were very much in and four were against kenpom top-100 teams. The Spiders only sub-100 loss came by five points at No.126 Bucknell. What worries me about the Spiders is they seem to have nothing BUT close games, having to come back from down big to UMBC to win by three at home, but I just think overall Richmond could be a much tougher out in the Atlantic 10 than people are imagining right now.
POTENTIALLY OVERRATED: GEORGE MASON (9-3)
Look, I’m saying POTENTIALLY here. I’m not saying Mason is overrated and in fact I’m VERY impressed with how they’ve won their last eight games. George Mason has won their last four games by an average margin of victory of 21.5 points. It doesn’t matter who you are playing, that’s an impressive number. The reason I put Mason in this category however is the fact remains seven of their nine wins have come against sub-150 kenpom teams with a strength of schedule that ranks 255th nationally. They’ll play No.326 Prairie View before hosting VCU to start A-10 play, a team they actually beat at home last season. Regardless of who they are playing, they have been getting it done, but I also think there’s just enough evidence there (same lineup from last year’s 5-13 A-10 team, OT win over No.232 JMU, home loss to Mt. Saint Mary’s) to suggest Mason’s 9-3 record could be a little deceiving (Mason ranked 5th in our recent Power Rankings).