It’s no secret that this year’s Atlantic 10 has been, well, interesting. Richmond, a team that went 6-6 in non-conference play is 5-0 and leads the A-10 right now. A bunch of middle-of-the-pack teams have already beaten up on each other. La Salle won at Rhode Island; Saint Louis won at George Mason. And now, Fordham has beaten Davidson and VCU.
This loss is particularly troublesome for the (VCU) Rams. To put this into perspective, Fordham ranks 216th in ESPN’s RPI. That’s pretty atrocious. Fordham has lost 10 of its last 13 but has somehow managed to steal wins over the Wildcats and the Rams. Their only other win in these last 13 games is over a horrible Central Connecticut team (ranks 344th out of 351 teams according to Kenpom).
Along with stealing a win over VCU, Fordham may have stolen a bid from VCU. Though the Rams won their first 4 games to start conference play, they’ve now lost their last 2 and have 2 bad losses on their resume. A road loss to Fordham and a home loss to Georgia Tech (both in overtime, interestingly enough) are bad marks. Without that many great wins to show for (1 over the RPI Top 50), it’s tough to see VCU as an at-large team right now.
So, that could leave the Atlantic 10 as a 1 to 2 bid league. I’d like to think that this conference could manage 3 bids this year, but the reality is looking a little bit smaller. While this is a great win for Fordham, and I don’t discredit it whatsoever, this is an awful regression for the league. Every time VCU, Dayton, or Rhode Island loses to Fordham, Duquesne, or Saint Louis, the further and further this league gets from having multiple bids.
So as of right now, Dayton looks like it’s probably an at-large if the tournament were to start today. Rhode Island and VCU may not be so lucky. The Rams have three good opportunities coming up: home games against La Salle, Dayton, and Richmond. While VCU will probably bounce back and re-enter the conversation for an at-large bid, it’s definitely got some work to do if it wants to bounce back. Meanwhile, losses for Richmond and La Salle would probably take those teams out of the distant conversation for an at-large bid. Dayton and Rhode Island are definitely teams that can still get a bid without winning the conference tournament.
This loss has to be a wake-up call for VCU. For a team that tends to dominate the weaker opponents in the league, this was a horrendous loss that it can hardly afford. If the Atlantic 10 continues to let the bottom-dwellers take down the top dogs, we may see one Atlantic 10 team in the NCAA Tournament this year.