It was opening night in the A10 on Tuesday with all 14 conference teams in action at home for the first time all season. Eyes were on the conference games, whether you were at one of the games or watching from home.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the entire conference was favored to win last night (yes, including Fordham!). There was an A10 moneyline parlay in play right to the very end (moment of silence for the 14 ML Parlay). There were A LOT of surprises and worries, but nonetheless, 13 of the 14 teams either escaped brutality or make easy work of their lesser opponents.
It’s also a good time to remind people that the first night of the season is a “kick the rust off” kind of game. Every team scheduled a “cupcake” for a reason. There’s so many unknowns this season that teams have to schedule a lower-conference team to get their feet wet but to also try and not risk a loss. It’s a long season, most of these teams will be better on game 2, and all will be right in the world.
Biggest Surprises that Shined: Davidson, George Mason, Duquesne
Davidson and George Mason had probably the two hardest opponents on the docket on Tuesday. Davidson was only a 7 point favorite against a Delaware team that was getting some hype in the offseason. Davidson was also an unknown team to most A10 fans, and winning by 22 put some ease in the minds of the Wildcat fans. They play a tough San Francisco team this weekend. We should know more about them after that game. Remember the name Foster Loyer.
George Mason was another pleasant surprise. The Patriots were only a 4 point favorite at home against Stony Brook, who are the favorite to win the American East this year. It was a little wacky with lineups to start, but Mason eventually found its way and won comfortably by 22 over Stony Brook. What a way to enter the Kim English era. Josh Oduro scored 16 points. He is going to be a problem this year.
Duquesne was a quiet headliner in the big winners category. The Dukes packed the Coop (like literally packed it) and didn’t let down its fanbase, winning by 12 against Rider. Duquesne was only a 5 point favorite at home, but they dominated seemingly from start to finish. It wasn’t as big of a margin of victory as Davidson and Mason, but the Dukes were quietly impressive. Kevin Easley scored 16 points to lead the Dukes and shot 50% (4-8) from three. Keep an eye on this team.
Unsurprisingly Played Well: Saint Louis, Fordham, St. Bona, URI, UMass
Saint Louis and Bonaventure are projected to be good teams and win easily on opening night, even without Javonte Perkins for the Billikens, but the Bills and Bonnies took care of business on Tuesday night. The Bonnies did struggle at first, but the final result never truly felt in doubt, covering the spread after a struggle in the first half. Saint Louis looked very good even against a very bad Central Arkansas team. Yuri Collins with 14 points and 12(!) assists.
Look at Fordham! The Rams won by 10 against a really bad Columbia team, but Rose Hill was bumping on Tuesday night! Kyle Neptune is off to a good start. Chuba Ohams with a strong game, recording a double-double (13 & 15). He was two assists away from a triple nickel! I’m not that surprised by this and neither are their fans since Columbia is truly a very bad team in the Ivy league, but a good start to the Neptune era.
Rhode Island and UMass were the equivalent to “the games that Red Zone forgot”. Nobody really paid attention to them, just saw they were winning and kept watching other games. Both teams may have struggled a bit at first, but pulled it out to win comfortably Ishmael Leggett looked very good for Rhody; Trent Buttrick is a name to watch out for the Minutemen.
Rode the Struggle Bus to Victory: Dayton, VCU, Richmond, Saint Joe’s, GW
Dayton was up by 10, but couldn’t hit a three to save their lives throughout the game, which is how UIC stayed in this one. UIC was up by 7 at half and by as much as 9 in the second half. But Dayton figured it out eventually, using their home crowd to ignite them in the second half and win fairly comfortably by 10. But trust me, I was there, it was a real struggle for this very young team to get it going. Not reading too much into it, but maybe a small concern for them moving forward. Toumani Camara and DaRon Holmes II are as good as advertised.
VCU was sooooo close to being upset by St. Peter’s, winning by 3 points. We know the Rams are dealing with a few injuries to some key guys, but I think I speak for many in the A10 community when I say they should still be a good team. VCU pulled it out, but it was so close to brutality. Hasan Ward is still very good defensively.
Richmond gave us a huge scare for most of the game, but the Spiders pulled out a win against North Carolina Central. We kind of knew what this team was going to be about going into this season since almost the entire roster came back for them, so this was a shocker. Richmond was a 26 point favorite at home, so yeah I am a little worried about them after that performance.
George Washington was another game that seemed like no one paid attention to, but eventually we all did by the end of the night when the Colonials were on the verge of being upset by St. Francis PA (#242 on KP). Thankfully, the Colonials pulled it out to win by 3. Ricky Lindo was actually the leading scorer in this game for GW. Jamir Bishop was off tonight, scoring 8 points and was 2-9 from three.
And then there was St. Joe’s, who battled toe to toe with Maryland Eastern Shore, who is #355 on KenPom. Yikes. Taylor Funk saved their entire season with a last second three pointer from the corner, which wouldn’t be without the defense on the inbounds pass by Cameron Brown. It was just night one, but not a great look for a team favored by 24 points at home to one of the worst teams in Division I.
Brutality: La Salle
The 14 team A10 moneyline parlay had survived up to the last game of the day…Sacred Heart at La Salle. Oh boy, what a terrible beat. La Salle looked like they were going to win this one comfortably, but they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and lose in overtime to Sacred Heart at home (#249 on KP). Just an terrible, horrible, no good, very bad loss. Light the L.