The Atlantic 10 and the Dance Part II

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Earlier in the conference season, I had a  too soon look at who had a chance to dance in the A-10 and who really had a look of work to do. Only VCU projected as solidly in at the time and that hasn’t changed. What has are the teams on the periphery. We’ve seen one bubble in team fall to the NIT bubble and a couple of others hover without gaining much traction. With only four games left (5 if you’re La Salle and St Louis), the picture isn’t much clearer than it was in January and the outlook could be a little more optimistic. The conceivably get anywhere from one to five bids.

IN

VCU (21-6)
RPI — 12
Big Wins: vs Northern Iowa, @Cincinnati, vs UMass
Bad Losses: @ St Bonaventure

Congratulations VCU! You’re the only A-10 we can safely call in the field. They could lose out and still have a strong enough resume to dance with three top – 50 wins and only one bad loss. I don’t see that happening anyway, but the Rams are playing for seeding at this point

Work to Do

Dayton (12-2)
RPI — 35
Big Wins: vs Texas A & M, vs Ole Miss
Bad Losses: None

Dayton goes from being in to the bubble of the bubble following their weekend loss to the 200+ RPI Duquesne Dukes. That said, they probably don’t have much work to do thanks to a couple of their non – conference SEC wins looking a butt load better than they did before. Take care of George Mason at home and split with URI and La Salle and nothing that happens in Brooklyn will matter much.

UMass (16-11)
RPI — 39
Big Wins: vs. Iona, vs Dayton
Bad Losses: vs St Bonaventure, @ St Joe’s

Color me surprised. I didn’t give UMass much of a chance to dance but thanks to heavy SOS, a big win at home against Dayton and Iona’s improved play, the Minutemen are actually in decent shape with three home games left. Here’s the thing. They can’t afford to lose more than twice as fourteen looks really bad on their resume.  They need to avoid another loss to St Joe’s and one against rising Fordham. A win to close the season in Foggy Bottom would do wonders for their road record. If I had to guess, the Minutemen’s magic number is probably four wins. If they win out in the regular season and get one in Brooklyn, they’ll be in excellent shape.

Davidson (18-6)
RPI — 57
Big Wins: vs UMass, vs Dayton
Bad Losses: @ St Joe’s, vs St Bonaventure

This team has massively exceeded my expectations. In between updates, the Wildcats probably went from out to in to back out again. Their overall record is strong and they picked up two big conference wins pushing their RPI as high 39 at one point. Then, they took bad losses to St Joe’s and one at home to the Bonnies. Davidson are the first of the teams I’ve said that have work to do with absolute must win scenarios. First, I think they must beat VCU as a win against the Rams would give them a huge RPI boost. Second, they’ll need to win at Duquesne to avoid another bad loss and an RPI crusher. From there, they’ll probably also need to advance to the semi’s in the A-10 tournament regardless of seed. With a healthy Jack Gibbs, all is possible.

Rhode Island (18-6)
RPI — 63
Big Wins: vs UMass
Bad Losses: @ St Joe’s

Rhode Island has mostly taken care of business but they haven’t taken care of enough. Like Davidson, they need a few of things to happen. First, they must beat Dayton. Second, they need to win out their home slate. Finally, they’ll need to at least make the conference semi’s and might even need to make the finals. The good news for Rhodie is that they’re still so young that you don’t need much of an imagination to project them in each of the next two seasons.

Stop Calling it the “Not In Tournament”

La Salle (15-11)
RPI — 73

Richmond (15-12)
RPI — 77

Kudos to both of these teams as I’d given them up for dead earlier in January. Both have clawed their way back into the NCAA sanctioned post season bubble. They each have some work to do to get in the NIT like beating St Joe’s, and maybe amassing one more top 100 win each, but they’ve salvaged their season and given themselves something to play for in February and March.

 

Where Have You Gone, Joe Dimaggio?

George Washington (12-3)
RPI — 92
If you saw this coming, let me know. I’d love to meet up in Atlantic City before heading to the Barclays. Not for old times sake, but for some seriously degenerate sports betting. I’m talking MEAC prop bets. Any play you tell me to make, you got it.

Seriously though, GW has lost six of seven including two beat downs at the hands of VCU and one in Pittsburgh to the Dukes. the Colonials could still make the dance, but they’d likely need to run off seven straight before losing in the conference finals. They probably need four to just get into the NIT and the way things are trending, I’m not sure if they’ll even win two.

Better Luck Next Year (a.k.a. The Spoilers Club)

St Joe’s, Saint Louis, St Bonaventure, Duquesne, Fordham, George Mason

This group is why the Atlantic 10 can’t have nice things. St Joe’s is a black mark on a number of team’s resumes and the way they’re playing, they could fall out of the top 200 and make losses to them look even worse. Duquesne knocked GW off the bubble though the Colonials have proceeded to knock themselves way off of it of late and hurt Dayton’s chances badly. Fordham has looked better than they have in a decade down the stretch and UMass still needs to avoid that trap. These teams all carried some bad losses into league play and with the exception Fordham and St Louis so far, each has dinged a team with a lot more to play for than themselves.

 

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