We’re closing in on halfway through the conference season and while teams may be a ways from reaching their full potential, I was curious to see how the A-10 looked at this exact point last year (by number of games played by each team) and how they finished.
2014-15 STANDINGS AT THIS TIME LAST SEASON (REG SEASON FINISH)
- VCU 7-0 (5)
- GW 6-1 (6)
- Dayton 6-2 (2)
- Davidson 5-2 (1)
- Rhode Island 5-2 (3)
- Richmond 4-3 (4)
- St. Bonaventure 4-3 (7)
- UMass 4-3 (8)
- La Salle 3-4 (9)
- Saint Joseph’s 3-5 (10)
- George Mason 2-5 (13)
- Duquesne 1-7 (11)
- Saint Louis 1-7 (14)
- Fordham 0-8 (12)
It’s easy to take a quick look at that and see who the biggest movers were, with VCU and GW having the worst finishes, dropping four spots each.
The Rams decline can be explained with a combo of injuries and an increasingly difficult schedule, having lost defensive standout Briante Weber for the season in their first A-10 loss of the year (home v Richmond), then seeing Treveon Graham exit after 12 minutes in a win against George Mason the following game, an injury that would force VCU to play without both senior stars the next two contests for the first time in four years. VCU dropped both of those games (to sub-100 teams, one in overtime, one at the buzzer) as a part of a 5-6 finish that would send them from A-10 undefeated to the No.5 seed in Brooklyn.
The Rams seemed to figure things out that March, winning four games in four days (defeating three of the teams that had previously beaten them in the process) and grabbing the A-10’s auto-bid with their first-ever A-10 tournament title.
GW on the other hand finished with a healthy roster but a more challenging finish to their 2014-15 schedule.
After playing just one kenpom top-100 A-10 team their first seven conference games — a double-overtime home win over No.55 Richmond — the Colonials final 11 games included seven against top-100s, four of which were road contests. The Colonials lost six of those top-100 contests, surviving their only top-100 win against Dayton, once again in an overtime home victory thanks to a miracle put-back by Joe McDonald.
The strongest finish to last season’s regular season schedule came from the conference newbie Davidson Wildcats. The Cats benefited from both VCU and GW declines, coincidentally defeating both teams en route to that first place finish, handing Shaka Smart his largest defeat, 82-55, as college head coach.
Four teams saw no movement, finishing the season exactly where they were at this point in conference play and only one team improved their tourney seeding by more than two places.
So far to this point in the season the Hawks have seen the overall most improvement in conference ranking, jumping from 10th at this point in the season last year to third at this point in time, while Richmond and UMass have seen the biggest conference declines.
The Spiders schedule will ease up a bit, but will it be enough to allow Chris Mooney and Co. a chance to be this year’s Davidson?
Teams four through nine are separated by just one game, so don’t be surprised if there’s massive movement in the rankings these next two weeks.
The top three however, VCU (7-0), Dayton (6-1) and Saint Joseph’s (6-1) have given themselves a nice start and will look to finish strong, praying they’ll avoid injury and a fate that hurt VCU’s regular season finish this past season.