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Thoughts & Observations from the First Few Weeks of Atlantic 10 Conference Play

With most teams having 4 or 5 conference games under their belt, we’ve got a decent sample size of A-10 games to start drawing some conclusions. Still, it’s a long season, and a lot of teams have yet to play the meat and potatoes of their league schedules. Duquesne still needs to face Dayton, VCU, and Richmond. St. Bonaventure is undefeated, but they haven’t faced a team that’s likely to finish in the top half of the conference. To make a long story short, the A-10 standings could look wildly different come March. That said, here are a few thoughts and observations from a fun couple weeks of Atlantic 10 hoops.

Dayton has a shot at going undefeated in conference play

It really looked like Friday night’s Arch Baron Cup contest would be the first blemish on the Flyers’ conference schedule. They got out-hustled and out-rebounded most of the night, and nothing would fall from deep. But all of a sudden, Dayton buried 6 threes in a row to re-take the lead, and in overtime, Jalen Crutcher sealed the deal with a dagger three right before the buzzer. If that’s Dayton’s C game, and I think the Flyers had one of their poorest performances of the year (at least for the first 30 minutes), it’s going to be tough to beat. Kenpom currently gives Dayton a 9.8% chance of finishing league play undefeated, so it is unlikely the Flyers run the table. 4 teams realistically have a chance at taking them down: Richmond, Duquesne, VCU, and Rhode Island (all on the road). I’d be shocked if anyone marched into UD Arena and won this year, but stranger things have happened. If Dayton keeps taking care of business on the road and other top 10 teams start losing, there’s a chance the Flyers creep up to the 2 line come Selection Sunday.

Rhode Island could finish 2nd in the Atlantic 10 this year

Dayton should finish 1st this year, but when it comes to 2nd place (and who will get the double byes), your guess is as good as mine. I think VCU is the team with the most reasonable chance, but I think Rhode Island is right there too, and URI already owns a road win at the Siegel Center. Rhode Island should be the favorite in its next 6 games with the toughest ones coming at St. Bonaventure and vs. VCU. Richmond still has a very reasonable chance to finish 2nd this season, but the Blake Francis injury could really hurt a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth to begin with. I’ll be interested to see how the Rhode Island – Duquesne game sorts out. I have a feeling the Dukes are in for a beating after barely getting by Fordham at home, and I think URI could be the team that delivers that blow. With Fatts Russell lighting it up and Jeff Dowtin coming back from a bogus 1-game suspension, this team could really go on a run.

Davidson really misses Luke Frampton

Davidson, a team that normally leads the A-10 in three point shooting, is just 28.3% from deep in conference play, ranking 11th in the league. The Wildcats were just 8/33 from long range in a home loss to Richmond, and a lot of their shots were pretty good looks that just wouldn’t go down. Luke Frampton went on a personal leave of absence, and he was shooting 48.3% from deep — by far the best on the team. 45% of Davidson’s field goal attempts come from long range, so either they’re going to have to start falling soon, or Davidson should start looking for something off the dribble from Grady or Gudmundsson.

Who’s the leading candidate for the last Wednesday Night Pillow Fight spot?

It seems Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, and George Washington will all be playing on Wednesday in Brooklyn, but who else will join them? You could make a case for Massachusetts, La Salle, George Mason, and maybe even Davidson. I’ll say this: George Mason has a pretty brutal conference schedule ahead, featuring Richmond (x2), Rhode Island, Dayton, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, and VCU. If the Patriots (who are now without Justin Kier) don’t find a way to beat someone near the top, it could be them.