A new year has come and with it comes a chance to turn the page for teams around the league who perhaps didn’t quite meet expectations set for themselves for their non-conference seasons (talkin’ to you, Richmond). Atlantic 10 play tips it up this weekend, giving let down fanbases a chance to feel like winners once again. Some teams have carved out solid non-conference resumes — VCU in particular appears to be well on the right side of the bubble with five top-100 wins, three away from their home court — but for most this weekend is about a rebirth, and the hunt for an A-10 tourney first round bye.
Below are Kenpom’s computers projections for this weekend’s openers.
- Dayton 15-point favorite v Duquesne (92%)
- VCU 13-point favorite at Fordham (90%)
- Davidson 9-point favorite v Richmond (81%)
- Rhode Island 7-point favorite at Saint Louis (80%)
- UMass 7-point favorite v St. Bonaventure (74%)
- GW 3-point favorite at Saint Joseph’s (62%)
- La Salle 3-point favorite at George Mason (59%)
EDITOR’S GAME OF THE WEEK: Davidson v Richmond
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but for some dumb reason I STILL believe Richmond is a better team (or well, capable of being a better team) than they’ve shown. Here me out here. Of Richmond’s six losses, four are to kenpom top-100 teams, INCLUDING Richmond’s most recent letdown, a heart-breaking home L to Northeastern, kenpom No.96 and CAA Preseason No.1, which used to really mean something and probably still should. Side note: if you know squat about college hoops you know Bill Coen is a hell of a coach. The other top-100 losses were road Ls to the likes of ODU (11-1 and also beat VCU in the same building), Northern Iowa (ranked 23rd nationally) and NC State (top-100 ACC road game), plus two you don’t wanna lose: Wake Forest (still an ACC school with some history) and at JMU (a rivalry game of sorts). Richmond has been TERRIBLE at shooting the three but rank 20th nationally at connecting on their attempts inside the arc — and hey, we’ve all seen what Kendall Anthony can do when his three is falling. Davidson coincidentally has been really bad at defending the paint, ranking 270th nationally. Allen, Kline and Nelson-Adoda all have solid size and MUST have big games as a group for the Spiders to pull off the win. I’m naive enough to think they can and that Richmond has been really underachieving. With all that said, I recognize just how good Davidson has been this year. Tyler Kalinoski and Jack Gibbs have been insanely good in the non-conference and quite frankly look like a major mismatch for Richmond’s backcourt. But I’ve also watched enough basketball in my day to know that even the biggest underachievers (Richmond) pull it together some games and think Davidson could get caught in a home trap by the Spiders. Am I betting the mortgage on it? Hell no. But I’m just sayin…don’t be surprised if the Spiders go to Charlotte and knock off the Wildcats, like Elon, Drexel, College of Charleston and Milwaukee were able to do last season.
Obviously I think Richmond has a chance at Davidson (or at least find that game the most intriguing because it involves a team looked at as a contender for an A-10 title currently), but two other games in particular worth paying attention to are GW at Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island at Saint Louis. Do I believe the home teams really win those ones? No. But the folks in Vegas seem to think it will be close. As of the typing of this blog post GW is just a 2-point road favorite at Saint Joseph’s. Saint Louis is a 5.5-point dog at home to the Rams of Rhode Island. Those might be easy money for the road teams but Colonials fans in particular can’t help but be nervous after seeing what both kenpom’s computers and Vegas both think.