Checking in for another statistics-based look at the A-10. Let’s GO!
IS RHODE ISLAND THE NEW XAVIER?
When was the last time there was this much of a disparity between the A-10’s top team and the rest of the conference?
This year’s Rams currently rank 31 spots higher in kenpom’s current rankings than the No.2 team in the conference. The last time team No.1 ranked that much higher than team No.2, Xavier (No.32 nationally) was 35 spots up on UMass (No.67), a year that saw just two A-10 teams dance. That tangoing twosome was because tourney 3-seed George Washington went on to steal a bid after upsetting both X and UMass, the tourney’s top two seeds thanks to 13-3 conference finishes. The conference boasted just four top-100 teams that season, which is oddly enough one more than this year’s A-10 can claim.
Is there a bid-stealer lurking and can we see a repeat of 2007?
Kenpom is currently predicting a 16-2 conference finish to Rhode Island’s regular season but has them the favorite in all 11 of their remaining contests. The analytics site sees Rhody’s biggest challenges coming in road contests at St. Bonaventure (giving URI a 56% chance to win) and Davidson (at 52% chance of a Rhody victory).
With an average margin of victory of 15.6 points per game in A-10 play, I feel quite confidant in my assumption that Rhody should cruise to a regular season title. It would be their first of such titles since 1981, a year the regular season Eastern 8 champs would, like Xavier in 2007, be upset by the No.4 seed in that year’s conference tournament semifinals.
TIME TO BUY STOCK IN BONA?
Now seems like a great time to buy stock in St. Bonaventure if you ask me. The preseason No.2 as of this post time sits in sole possession of 10th place, not exactly confidence inspiring, but upon a closer look, are a perfect buy low, sell high candidate.
All four of the Bonnies losses have come on the road, three of which two teams currently ranked within the top-5 of the conference, the other in front of 13k fans at UD Arena. Four of their next six will come within the friendly confines of the Reilly Center, with winnable road games at Mason and Duquesne sandwiched in the middle. SBU is the kenpom favorite in all but one of their remaining contests, a home game against Rhode Island on February 16.
Statistically the Bonnies D has been uncharacteristically weak in A-10 play despite a strong showing in the non-conference against a solid schedule that included four top-100 wins, three of which came outside of the Reilly Center. I expect Bona to regress to the mean defensively and should be in the mix for a top-four bid soon enough.
DUMP ALL YOUR DUQUESNE 2017-18 STOCK NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE?
Love Keith Dambrot. I am fully convinced that he is the guy that can build the Dukes into a mean group of SOBs. I also think Duquesne is an A-10 tourney team you aren’t necessarily going to want to catch in an early game.
Now might not be a bad time to sell that inflated Duquesne stock you’ve been holding on to for a moment like this.
The Dukes are 5-2 in A-10 play and an un-Duquesne like 14-6 overall. That’s awesome, especially for a fanbase (or what is left of one) that has become unfamiliar with success. But I’m of the opinion the Dukes bubble may be about ready to burst.
Duquesne is 2-2 over their last four contests with their road games resulting in double-digit losses and their home games coming in the form of double and triple overtime wins agains the likes of La Salle and George Mason. The Dukes will take on a somewhat surprisingly successful (in A-10 play) Richmond team in Pittsburgh, then the degree of difficulty will begin to ramp up. Six of Duquesne’s last 10 will be on the road with home games against Bona and Davidson thrown into the mix.
Kenpom predicts the Dukes will finish at 9-9 in A-10 play when it’s all said and done, but has them as the favorite in only three remaining contests (v Richmond, v Fordham and v SLU), which puts the current 2-loss team as the underdog in eight or these next 11.
Let’s assume Duquesne picks up home wins in those three contests I just mentioned. That’s eight wins. Pick up roadies at GW and Umass in addition to those and you’re at least at 10-8. Steal a home game against Bona or Davidson and your Duquesne Dukes are a likely 11-7 team that’s not playing in the A-10 tourney until Thursday.
Easier said than done.
WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTIONS WITH ZERO EXPLANATION
Regular season champ: Rhode Island
A-10 tourney champ: Rhode Island
A-10 Coach of the Year: Dan Hurley (Rhode Island)
A-10 Player of the Year: Peyton Aldridge (Davidson)
A-10 Rookie of the Year: Eric Williams Jr. (Duquesne)
Chris Daniels Most Improved Player: Josh Cunningham (Dayton)
Sixth Man of the Year: Kyle Davis won it last year averaging the third most minutes on Dayton’s team, so no telling what the A-10 does here.