February 26, 2020. Nobody will remember this night years from now, but we must remember it for this season. The conference lost its marbles last night with a ton of close games, including the headliner going into OT. We always say that road wins are hard to come by in conference play. That was evident last night with a number of teams winning on the road. Most of you watched the games for your teams, so I’ll just get to the nitty-gritty of what each result means for the league. The standings turned on their head, and now the last 3 games of the season are going to be huge. Let’s start with that headliner game.
Duquesne 81 St. Bonaventure 77
What a win for the Dukes. What a HUGE win for the Dukes. St. Bonaventure was looking to all but lock up a top 4 spot as home against a Duquesne team that they have already beaten once this season in Pittsburgh. Not so fast, as Sincere Carry, Marcus Weathers, and the Dukes win a big game up in Olean. Duquesne had to go to overtime to do it, but Sincere Carry iced the game with two free throws in OT, and that’s all she wrote. What does it mean? St. Bonaventure is now 10-5 in conference play, and Duquesne is 9-6. The Bonnies still lead, but it is now down to just one game. Their remaining schedule is at La Salle, vs. St. Joseph’s, and at Saint Louis. Not too hard of a remaining schedule, but two road games is still tough. Duquesne’s remaining schedule is less forgiving, with a home game vs. George Mason, at VCU, and vs. Richmond. Can’t wait to see how this goes.
With this loss, Bona has opened the door for Duquesne, Davidson, and Saint Louis to snag the 4th seed with all those teams being 9-6. Woo boy.
Rhode Island 76 Fordham 75
What in the world happened to Rhode Island? The Kingston Rams were up by 12, all was well in the world, then Fordham climbed right back into it to make us all turn our heads. Of course, a Toppin saves the day with a HUGE offensive rebound on a miss and then proceeds to hit two MASSIVE free throws to put Rhode Island ahead by one. Fordham almost put in the buzzer beater, which would have been amazing to see, but terrible for the A10 as a whole. If one thing doesn’t go right for Rhody, they are looking at a bubble burst heard ’round the world. Nonetheless, Rhode Island still found a way to win thanks to a freshman. Besides the heart attack that all Rhody Ram fans had, Tyrese Martin has 24 points and 16 rebounds like a boss, and Fordham talked a lot of smack and got a player ejected. Kingston breathes a sigh of relief.
Also, kuddos to Fordham for finally playing good offense along with their good defense to put together a game. If Rhode Island plays defense like that against anyone else, they will lose. They were so close to being out of the tournament. And they won’t beat Dayton next week at home if they don’t play better on defense. The Rams have a week to prepare for that one and not speak of this one again.
Richmond 73 George Washington 70
Speaking of bubbles almost bursting, Richmond decided to play around with George Washington in Foggy Bottom and barely escaped with a victory. The game was kind of all Richmond with GW finding ways to claw back into it after the Spiders would go on a run. Blake Francis and Nick Sherod were really good, as was Armel Potter and Maceo Jack. Richmond was up the entire game, and it really did not come down to a final shot, but this was still too close for comfort. Kind of like how Rhode Island was up 12 on Fordham, Richmond was up by 10 at one point on GW, but the Colonials climbed back in it. I’m not sure what Rhode Island and Richmond are doing, but now is not the time to screw around with Selection Sunday being a few weeks away. They were both one or two plays going the other way from making the A10 a one-big league again. This league has improved way too much this season to be a one-bid league. Road woes in conference play, I guess.
Massachusetts 60 VCU 52
Matt McCall finally gets his first win against VCU, better yet in front of his own crowd. Tre Mitchell and Marcus Santos-Silva put on a show (we don’t talk enough about how many good big men the A10 has). Santos-Silva finished with 14 points and 11 boards, while Mitchell put up 19 points and 15 boards. I wrote last time how UMass needs more than Tre Mitchell to win, and most of those other contributions need to come from Carl Pierre. Well, Pierre entered the chat tonight, scoring 21 points on 5-12 shooting, including 4-7 from three. This is exactly what the Minutemen needed. On the other hand, VCU dropped its 5th game in a row. To make matters worse, UMass and VCU are now tied at 7-8 in the standings. UMass holds the tiebreaker, which puts the Minutemen in 8th and VCU in 9th. Granted, VCU was without Marcus Evans, Corey Douglass, and Vince Williams, but they were in this game and needed it badly. VCU is not in danger of getting to the Wednesday afternoon games being 3 games ahead of George Mason, but they are now only one game ahead of George Washington, who is coming to the Siegel Center on Saturday. Lose that one, and VCU will be sitting in 10th. Not the season they envisioned for the preseason favorite.
Saint Louis 76 Saint Joseph’s 63
The only result that was never in doubt, Saint Louis beat St. Joe’s in Chaifetz Arena on the late night game. Not much to say in this one other than the Billikens are finally starting to play like they are capable of beating anyone again. They also secured their 20th win for the second year in a row. More importantly, they capitalize on the Bona loss earlier tonight. SLU improves to 9-6 and still in the fight for the 4th seed. As for St. Joe’s, they host Fordham over the weekend to decide who will get their second win this season and who will be the 14th spot in the standings and an almost certain fate for that same seed in Brooklyn.
Just a heads up for anyone wondering how the standings and seeding works between teams that hold the same conference record at the end of the season:
There are a couple of teams that this could affect. Duquesne and St. Bonaventure could have to deal with the 2nd option if they both end up tied for 4th. The highest common opponent that these teams have different results against is Richmond, with Duquesne still having to play them and Bona beating Richmond earlier this season. If the Dukes lose that, Bona would take the 4th seed. After that, it becomes more complicated.
On another note, can you imagine if the 4th seed, aka the double bye, had to be decided on a COIN FLIP??