With the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament just a little more than 24 hours away, we here at A10Talk thought we’d do some predictions to keep you entertained. Here’s what everyone had to say about who’s bound to succeed, fail, and surprise in Brooklyn.
|VCU Rams: 6||Dayton: 5||Richmond: 3|
|St. Bonaventure: 3||George Washington: 3||Davidson: 2|
|Dayton: 2||St. Joseph’s: 2||Fordham: 2|
|–||VCU: 1||George Washington: 1|
|–||–||La Salle (Kinda): 1|
Winner: St. Bonaventure. I’m going to go out on a limb and take the Bonnies as the winner of the A-10 Tournament. Winning 10 of its last 11, St. Bonaventure has beaten some of the best in the league: St. Joseph’s (2), Dayton, George Washington. This team is proving that it belongs at the top of the conference standings and in the A-10 Tournament. Though they’ll likely have to take down VCU and Dayton/St. Joseph’s, I think the Bonnies have what it takes.
Bust: George Washington. The Colonials really only had two solid wins in A-10 play: a road victory over VCU and a home win over Rhode Island. Every other team that the Colonials beat resides outside of Kenpom’s top 100. Since they failed to win the important games in conference play, the Colonials aren’t likely to win them in the postseason. I don’t see them getting past the quarterfinals in Brooklyn.
Sleeper: Fordham. The Rams have won their last 4 games and seem to be one of the hottest teams heading to Brooklyn. They’ll have a second round contest with Richmond, a team that’s lost 5 of its last 6. If they win that game, they’ll get Dayton, a team that’s lost 3 of its last 6. Not only are the Fordham Rams on a nice winning streak, but they have the chance to face some teams that haven’t been playing well lately. Watch out for the Rams.
Winner: VCU. This marks the first postseason experience of new head coach Will Wade, and I expect his guys to embrace the spotlight. They say that defense wins championships, and Rams surely have embraced that mentality: they rank third in the nation in steals and 7th in defensive turnover percentage. Vets like Billbury, Johnson and Alie-Cox bring leadership and versatility to this squad, and their experience should shine bright when the stage is the biggest. VCU is resilient, and because of that I think they’re going to walk away from Brooklyn victorious.
Bust: Dayton. The Flyers had a rougher second half of the conference schedule. Once thought to be the odds-on favorites in the A-10 tourney, they are now just a mid-range bid for the NCAA tourney. Unless Dayton comes in supremely confident, which by all means they are capable of, I see them getting upended before the championship game by a hungrier team, like George Washington persay. Here’s to Archie Miller proving me wrong!
Sleeper: Richmond. The Spiders may not have the most impressive resume coming into the tourney, but they are the nation’s 11th best shooting team from the field, hitting 49.1% of their two-point shots on the season. I really like what Terry Allen brings to the floor, specifically in regards to his dominance around the rim. Throw in T.J. Cline, a similar versatile forward with better three-point range, and you’ve got the makings of a team ready to do damage.
Winner: VCU. I lean toward the Rams due to the questions surrounding Kendall Pollard’s participation combined with the black and gold’s path to the championship game. There’s no easy road to Sunday, but I think VCU might have gotten the matchups they needed to get there. They have an experienced roster full of guys who have found success at Barclays, don’t play ANY freshman, yet have the depth and talent to win three games in three days. There will also most likely be a solid Rams crowd there to help them along their way.
Bust: Dayton. The Flyers last three wins are by a combined five points, two of those coming against Richmond and SLU. They’ve also lost three of their last six. Throw in the Pollard news and a Richmond team that will either roll over and die against you or hit 100 threes on you and I think Dayton might have the greatest chance of a true needle-moving upset in their first game (I don’t think Davidson over Bona or GW over Saint Joseph’s would be huge upsets). VCU will be on upset alert as well early.
Sleeper: Richmond. I had high expectations for this Richmond team, picking the Spiders fourth in my preseason rankings after finishing as the 4-seed last season. Needless to say, these dudes have disappointed all season long, so I might as well go down with the ship. I don’t think the Spiders have the depth or defense to win four in four days, but I think their offense is still dangerous and could make them a candidate for an upset or two. I think GW has the best chance to win it outside of the top-four.
Winner: VCU. Whatever VCU may have lost in sharing the regular season crown, has perhaps been redeemed by way of a favorable path in the A-10 Championship. The Rams are 6-1 against teams on their side of the bracket, and match up well against the most significant potential roadblock – St. Bonaventure (the hottest team coming into the tournament). Despite the hiccup on Saturday, the Rams are still the most efficient overall team in the A-10, and carry an experienced roster capable of winning in a variety of ways – something they’ll need to do in order to earn back-to-back title runs.
Bust: Dayton. Over the last month, Dayton is just 5-3 (2 OT wins), with nip and tuck scoring margins of: +2, +2, -9, -7, +3, -9, +1, +1. Repeat: The A-10 Co-Champions, the number 1 seed, have not beaten a team by more than 3 points in the last month. Not a time to hear (again) that an ailing Kendall Pollard may continue to be a limited contributor, at best. There is no denying how good this team has been this season, but they are far from their best at the worst possible moment.
Sleeper: Everyone? We’ve seen it all season long; no one is safe. I think Davidson is a possible sleeper, but their side of the bracket doesn’t feature any particularly favorable opportunities. On the other hand, the path for George Washington may be a little more manageable, and the Colonials have the makeup to play with the better teams in the A-10 when they put everything together. Fordham is a true dark horse. Opposing coaches have dreaded matching up with the Rams all season, and it isn’t impossible to imagine the 8 seed playing on Saturday.
Winner: St. Bonaventure. Best guards going right now. Guards win tournament games for you in March.
Bust: Dayton. The Pollard injury and playing situation makes them ripe for the picking. Nearly lost to Fordham and Richmond earlier this season.
Sleeper: La Salle. The Explorers have been asleep for most of 2016.
Winner: St. Bonaventure. Hot hot hot! The Bonnies are playing great basketball, and have really good individual players that can will St. Bona to victory if need be. So many times in March it comes down to a player being able to make clutch buckets at the end of games, and the Bonnies have that guy in Marcus Posley.
Bust: Dayton. While the Flyers are an excellent team, and should be feared in the NCAA Tournament, I have a feeling they will get bounced early in the A10 Tournament. Over their last 8 games, the Flyers are 5-3. However two of those wins were in OT, and the other three came by a combined 5 points! They are playing too many close games, and all it takes is one tight one to not fall their way, and they’re out.
Sleeper: Davidson. The Wildcats have been borderline-unstoppable at home the last two years, dropping only 2 games. The problem is that Brooklyn is not home. However, I think a healthy Davidson behind Sullivan, Gibbs, and Aldridge can make enough threes to hang with and beat any team in the field.
Winner: Dayton. This year is about as wide open as I can remember in the Atlantic 10. Taking into account all that has happened this season, I simply cannot look past Archie Miller in March. He’s just too good.
Bust: VCU. The Rams have shown a lot of vulnerability at times this season. The loss to GW and the game against St. Bonaventure, which they did win, but did not look unbeatable, are examples.
Sleeper: George Washington. While this is a team people are saying could win the tourney, I still consider GW to be a sleeper, simply based on the fact that the Colonials seem to be getting ignored based on the fact that they’re a 5-seed.
Winner: VCU. The Rams will play mad after losing to Dayton which cost them an outright A-10 regular season title and tournament 1 seed. Kendall Pollard is questionable to play in the tournament. If he doesn’t go, it hurts Dayton a lot and should help VCU if two teams meet in the title game.
Bust: St. Joe’s. The Hawks come into the tournament cold after losing the final two regular season games. They cost themselves a share of the regular season title after falling at home to Duquesne on senior night. While St. Joe’s has the capability to win the whole tournament, I’m placing them as a bust due to recent struggles.
Sleeper: Duquesne. Deciding between Duquesne and Davidson as my sleeper was like splitting hairs, but I picked the Dukes for a simple reason: They have two great guards as opposed to one. When Micah Mason and Derrick Colter both heat up from deep, Duquesne has the capability to beat anyone.
Winner: VCU. The Rams have played well down the stretch winning three of their last four games, the loss coming at Dayton in overtime. The Rams also have a top defense, and a favorable path to the championship game. If the Rams get Dayton on a neutral court, I believe the game swings in their favor.
Bust: St. Joseph’s. How the mighty have fallen. After Joes looked like an interesting foe for the Dayton Flyers to take the regular-season crown, the Hawks lost three of their last five games. Despite having arguably the most talented team in the conference, a likely matchup with the George Washington Colonials probably takes them out early.
Sleeper: Davidson. Last year’s A-10 regular season champion has struggled despite featuring the best scorer in the conference, Jack Gibbs. Still, the Wildcats boast an offense that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the conference. If Gibbs and company get hot, the Wildcats could make a run in Brooklyn.
Winner: VCU. There is always a certain mystique around the Rams during this time of year. First year coach Will Wade will have his guys amped up following a tough loss to Dayton. Defense will lead VCU to the title, and it will win them their second straight A-10 tournament.
Bust: George Washington. While the Colonials have shown the ability to be one of the best in the league, they just haven’t gotten over the hump. They haven’t won many key games this year in conference. I see them getting bounced early.
Sleeper: Richmond. Although the Spiders laid a massive egg this year, they could be a dark horse. The Spiders has one of the best offenses in the A-10 but will have to shoot the lights out in four straight games in order to steal a bid.
Winner: Dayton. It’s easy to forget that this Flyers team was nationally ranked earlier this season. Yes, they’ve lost a few games along the way, but even the worst of the Atlantic 10 teams have proven that they can compete with top teams like Dayton. This team has a great resume all around, even out of conference. Wins over Iowa and Vanderbilt are not anything to brush off. Look for the Flyers’ success to continue in Brooklyn.
Bust: George Washington. To be honest, besides the VCU win, GW does not have much on their resume. Sure a win over Virginia and Seton Hall is awesome, but when it comes to Atlantic 10 play, they have struggled. Considering their recent struggles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them bounced early.
Sleeper: Fordham. While Fordham has a tough route, it’s hard to count them out. They may not look the best on paper, but anyone who has watched them play this season knows that even in the games that they lose, they always are competitive and it’s never a blowout (except for the VCU game). The Rams are red hot, winning four in a row heading into Brooklyn. Don’t sleep on the Rams.