Coronavirus or not, we are finally here at the A10 Tournament. We are kicking off the fun with the Wednesday night pillow fights. Now, the games used to be at night, but this year they are in the afternoon. We at A10 Talk do not give the slightest care in the world. The Wednesday NIGHT Pillow Fight it shall remain. Let it be written in stone. It’s an A10 tradition.
13 St. Joseph’s vs. 12 George Mason
The first game of the tournament belongs to the Hawks and Patriots. Mason comes in winning their last game against Fordham on the road while St. Joe’s is riding a two game losing streak. Mason and St. Joe’s met during the season in Fairfax with the Patriots coming out on top 62-55. Javon Greene and Ryan Daly both had 20 points for their respective teams in that game. AJ Wilson was a monster with 4 blocked shots, while also chipping in 13 points of his own. Jamal Hartwell also had 13 points for the Patriots.
George Mason is more of a defensive team, even though they are not top 100 on KenPom in AdjD efficiency. AJ Wilson is the main reason why they are 27th in the country in block percentage, which is weird that they struggle to guard two point shots. Their ability to guard the rim will be key in this game. One problem that Mason is already facing is the absence of Jamal Hartwell. He plays about 67% of Mason’s minutes and is a key contributor as a starting point guard. Xavier Johnson will have to replace him in the starting lineup if he cannot go for Mason.
As for St. Joseph’s, their defense is awful, ranking 315th in the country, and the only reason they are not a sub-200 offensive team is due to Ryan Daly finding ways to jack up shots and get to the rim to score 20+ points every game. For reference, he takes 32.3% of his teams shot, good for 32nd in the country. They need Daly to have a great game to have a chance. On another note, Chereff Knox has left the program and is in the transfer portal. He will not be with the team in Brooklyn. Knox was barely a contributor and did not get much playing time, so this might not be too big of a deal.
One key for this game will be which team can consistently score. We know Daly and either or a combination of Greene and Wilson will need to score to keep their team in the game. If Daly and the Hawks have a hard time scoring at the rim due to the presence of AJ Wilson and Josh Oduro, it could be a long day for the Hawks.
Another key is the lack of defense from St. Joseph’s. Both teams are relatively the same on offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, but St. Joe’s is drastically worse than George Mason on defense. Mason does pride itself on rebounding, especially on the offensive glass. Additionally, St. Joe’s is horrid on the glass, which is where Mason could have an advantage even if Mason isn’t hitting shots. The bigs for Mason could have a day down low.
Ryan Daly is going to have a hard time getting to the rim due to Mason’s bigs in Wilson and Oduro, which is going to rely on him to shoot from the arch, where he is shooting 31% on the year. No Hawk shoots more than 34% from three, which is why they are #325 on KenPom in three point shooting. AJ Wilson and Josh Oduro are going to be all over Anthony Longpre and Cameron Brown. I expect AJ Wilson to have a monster game as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Patriots win 65-53.
This game is at 1:00 ET on ESPN+. The latest spread is Mason -4.5. The over/under is 144.
14 Fordham vs. 11 George Washington
The Colonials and Rams wrap up the final game of the “night”. As some of you know, Fordham has beaten GW twice, 59-54 at Rose Hill and 63-52 at Foggy Bottom just a week ago. In fact, Fordham’s only two wins this season are against GW, which is kind of embarrassing for the “Colonels” (hope some of you get that). Nonetheless, it’s a new season, and anything can happen in the conference tournament.
George Washington comes into this game losers of 5 in a row and the butt end of a loss at Dayton on their senior night. They hung with the Flyers for a half, but the wheels fell off for a 25 point loss. Fordham’s last game was against George Mason, whom they lost by 4. Neither of these teams are particularly good, even though GW has pulled off wins against UMass, Duquesne, and Davidson. Their offense is hit or miss, but the defense remains terrible, ranking 237th in the country. GW has lost their early season offense and has drastically dropped to 224 on KenPom. They have not scored more than 52 points in their last 3 games. which is awful. Jamison Battle is their main player and part of the A10 All-Rookie team, which helps. He has the stroke to knock down threes, but that’s all he seems to be good at, and he jacks a lot of them which leads to a respectable 37% from the arch. This might be their only offensive chance in this game, which could be enough if they can play good defense.
Fordham has been traditionally known as all around awful, which would be the case with their offense, but not their defense. Fordham plays super slow, ranked 330th in the country in tempo which also leads to the 347th worst offense in the entire country (out of 353). It is so bad, which is why they are out of games before they can really get into them. However, as said earlier, their defense under Coach Neubauer has been stellar. The Rams rank 68th (almost nice) in the country in AdjD efficiency. They guard the three pretty well and force turnovers with their quick guards of Josh Colon and Jalen Cobb. Freshman big man Joel Soriano has blossomed as the season has gone on, and the Rams got Antwan Portley back halfway through the season. If their offense was somewhat good, they would have won more than 2 games in the A10 this season.
Until I see George Washington figure out how to score consistently against the Fordham defense, I don’t see the Colonials winning in the third round of the season series. Fordham won by 5 the first time at home then went into D.C. and continued the same defensive shutdown to an even bigger 11 point victory. Neubauer knows something Jamion Christian doesn’t, which is why I think the Bronx Rams win this one 60-53.
This game is at 3:30 ET on ESPN+. The latest spread is GW -3. The over/under is 122.