Does Richmond Have a Chance to Dance?
The answer to the above question is obviously a yes. Last time I checked, winning the conference tournament earned you a bid into March Madness. That’s not the question we’re too wrapped in at the moment. We are now in February and conference play is heating up, therefore we have a lot of questions. Sitting at 16-6 and 6-3 in the conference, the Richmond Spiders seem to have performed well this season. But will it be enough? Let’s break it down.
Back on November 8th, the Spiders were down late to St. Francis (PA). They rallied back to win in overtime. As meaningless as it may have seemed at the time, this was a big win. If you drop your home opener to St. Francis, that can easily derail a season. Winning that game is big for the Spiders, not so much the committee. Richmond went on to win it’s first 5 games (St. Francis, Vanderbilt, CSU Northridge, McNeese, & Wisconsin). The Wisconsin game is a big win for a number of reasons. They are a power conference school. Sure, they haven’t had their best year, but they are still knocking off quality teams, which all bodes well for Richmond. A loss to Auburn doesn’t hurt you on a neutral court, but it would have been nice to have performed a little better down the stretch in that one. The Spiders then beat a Boston College team that just isn’t very good. But again, beating a power 5 school never hurts you. Then we ran into Radford. This was a game that would be nice to forget, but that’s just not happening. Losing by 15 at a neutral site to a Big South school is not good. There’s no other way to put it. A week later, they went down to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. This was another game where Richmond ran into a hot shooting team, and just couldn’t pull it out. Heading into conference play, the Spiders were 10-3.
Now that they had non-conference out of the way, it was time for some league play. The Spiders opened up Atlantic 10 play with a dominating victory over Saint Joseph’s, as they beat them by 32. They then had what is now their biggest conference win, as they went up to Rhode Island and knocked off the Rams. If you’ve kept up with Rhode Island, they have really been playing well lately, including beating VCU in both matchups. Saint Louis came to the Robins Center following the Rhode Island victory, and knocked off the Spiders, but the box score wasn’t the most important factor in this one. Blake Francis fractured his sternum in the late going, and has been out ever since. In what seemingly was a mood killing injury, Richmond bounced back in a big way, going on the road to Davidson & George Mason and picked up a pair of wins. They hosted La Salle in the midst of their 3 game winning streak, and defeated the Explorers pretty handily. Then came Dayton. The Flyers were #7 at the time, and Richmond deserves credit. They hung with them all game, and only lost by 7. The VCU loss at the Siegel Center was not a good showing, but it didn’t kill them necessarily. To catch you up to date, the Spiders defeated George Washington this past weekend by 22 points. They will head to Fordham & La Salle over a 4 day stretch before hosting VCU at the Robins Center. This will be the game to see if Richmond has a chance at an at-large bid. A victory over VCU could potentially go a long way in determining their tournament fate. The remaining games after VCU are vs George Mason, @ St. Bonaventure, @ George Washington, vs UMass, vs Davidson, & @ Duquesne.
I for one am still optimistic. I’ll go on record and say that I fully believe to see Richmond in the NCAA Tournament this season. If they finish out conference play on a high note, and make it to at least Saturday in Brooklyn, this team has a real shot at making the tourney. Only time will tell, and be sure to follow along right here. Go Spiders!