Completely confused by the headline yet clicked on the link anyway? You sound like my kind of guy, or even better…my kind of girl. Welcome.
I love power rankings. Bitching and complaining about injustices is what I do, so I love making a good case for why a team is overrated or underrated. But we’ve done that. Power Rankings are everywhere, including on this here site once a week. So let’s try something new.
Below is a look at the current state of the Atlantic 10; somewhat based on current standings, but also in how the A-10 programs are trending. But this time I’m using Axl Rose as a visual example of about where the 14 A-10 teams are.
DAYTON (18-5, 9-2): Sweet Child O Mine Axl
The Flyers right now are your “Sweet Child O Mine” Axl. The most consistent and dependable team in the A-10, Dayton ranks an Atlantic 10-best No.34 by kenpom thanks to the conference’s top defense. The Flyers have owned our A10Talk Power Rankings this season in a very similar way GNR owned the charts with this hit, spending a band-best 24 weeks on the billboard charts. There’s nothing flashy about this UD team or this video, both are just that good. Also, can it be a coincidence that Dayton has a game that it seems to me, reminds me of childhood memories? Probably not.
VCU (19-5, 9-2): Making out with Stephanie Seymoure Axl
Things are going well for the Rams. VCU is once again off to a strong start, both in conference play and on the season as a whole, having a share of the A-10 lead with Dayton and in the discussion for an NCAA at-large bid. Not only have things been going well for a while (six consecutive NCAA tourney appearances), but the Rams have added some recent luck as well, surviving back-to-back games where VCU trailed with 0.4 seconds to play. Right now, at this very moment, this week, VCU is Axl at his prime, which is selling tons of records after having previously sold tons of records, then hooking up with Stephanie Symoure in front of everyone’s faces.
RHODE ISLAND (16-7, 8-3): Hollywood Rose Axl
It seems to me at this point in the season people are sleeping on the Rhode Island Rams a bit, just as some may have been sleeping on the Los Angeles band, Hollywood Rose, before they turned into Guns N’ Roses and took over the music world. That’s which Axl your 8-3 Rhody squad is. URI’s worst loss was a disappointing 12-point home L at the hands of a La Salle team that couldn’t miss. That’s not a terrible loss. Every other Rams L has been outside of Kingston. Rhode Island owns the best A-10 win of the season, defeating Cincinnati 76-71 on a neutral court. URI hosts Dayton on Friday and plays the only two other kenpom top-100 teams left on their schedule at home as well. A road rematch at La Salle could go a long way toward Rhody potentially winning the A-10 regular season title, but know this: the potential is there, just like it was with Will Bruce Rose Jr. before he turned into the Axl we all fell in love with.
RICHMOND (14-9, 8-3): Arrested in 1990 Axl
“I live next door to a psycho,” Rose told TV reporters after being released from jail for supposedly throwing chicken and an empty whine bottle at a neighbor. Sound familiar? No? Ok, as far as I see it there are two similarities between 1990 arrested Axl and Richmond Spiders basketball. For starters, you can’t hold either down. You think an arrest for a little chicken throwing is gonna stop Axl? You think a 6-6 start to the season is gonna stop Richmond? Nope, not in either case. And did someone say neighborly feud? Story of Richmond’s life. Despite a rough non-conference start Richmond has looked like one of the A-10’s best teams since conference play began. They own a home win over Rhody and have two forgivable losses at VCU and Dayton. They’ll get another shot at the Rams in just over a week. Don’t be surprised if the Robins Center is rockin for that one.
ST. BONAVENTURE (15-8, 7-4): Stage-diving, fan-fighting Axl
Just like Axl, St. Bonaventure has a love/hate relationship with the fans this week. After hitting what looked like a dramatic game-winning three in the final second of play against A-10-leading VCU, a Bona security guard doing his best Briante Weber impersonation and one excited fan doing his best Johnny from Karate Kid impersonation (“SWEEP THE LEG, JOHNNY!”) on a ref during gameplay, drew a technical foul that allowed the Rams to send the game into overtime where VCU would go on to win it. Bona fans are among the most passionate in the Atlantic 10. This week that passion might’ve gone just a slight bit too far.
LA SALLE (13-9, 7-4): Axl in American flag biker shorts
Just like Axl Rose wearing American flag biker shorts, we aren’t quote sure what to think about this year’s La Salle team. In a sense there’s something kinda awesome about this group, particularly their 26th-ranked offense featuring a roster full of talented transfers that we’re still getting to know (how many of you could pick B.J. Johnson, Pookie Powell or Demetrius Henry out of a lineup?). But at the same time we aren’t quite sure we really want to admit we are fans thanks to a La Salle D that has often times been M.I.A., checking in at 287th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. If a team wins with just offense are they still good? Like, if Axl is up there screaming the lyrics to “Welcome to the Jungle”, is he any less badass if he’s doing it dressed like one of the Fly Girls from In Living Color? This feels weird.
GEORGE MASON (16-8, 6-5): ’02 VMA’s Axl
GEORGE MASON IS BACK! FINALLY, THEY ARE BACK!!!!….I think. Axl returned to the stage for the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards with a completely rebuilt Guns N’ Roses. It was great seeing Rose out there singing “Welcome to the Jungle” (even if it was with Buckethead instead of Slash, Izzy and the boys), but if we’re being real about it, we were all still skeptics. After a promising 10-3 non-conference start, Mason has finally broken a win-lose-win-lose conference pattern with back-to-back big wins, putting them over .500 in conference play for their first time since joining the A-10. But will it last? Are they for real? Unlike Axl’s GNR reunion, I think this rebuild of the Patriots may be the real thing, as Dave Paulsen not only implements his system, but increases the level of talent on his roster, securing three ESPN three-star recruits over his last two classes. Until we see consistent results however, Mason is Axl with breads and an oversized football jersey.
” ROCKET QUEEN” ARTICLE INTERMISSION
DAVIDSON (12-10, 5-6): Not in This Lifetime Tour Axl
A lot of the key pieces from Davidson’s 2015 A-10 regular season championship season are still with the Cats. Bob McKillop, Jack Gibbs and Peyton Aldridge remain from that dangerous team, while there have been a few lineup changes that have made this Wildcats squad not quite as good as the original lineup led by A-10 POY, Tyler Kalinoski. Still fun to watch, but at 12-10 and 5-6 in the league, just not quite the same team. Davidson’s offense doesn’t rock quite like they used to, but with Gibbs and Aldridge on stage are always entertaining, giving us all the same warm feelings we get whenever we get a chance to watch Axl and Slash together.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (12-12, 4-7): “Chinese Democracy” Axl
In 1994, creative difference brought progress to GNR’s “Spaghetti Incident” follow-up to a halt. Basically GNR fired everyone not named Axl or Dizzy, replacing the majority of the band with a bunch of new guys that clearly weren’t at the level of the players they were replacing. Axl was turning into a fatter, harrier versions of himself and the future wasn’t looking bright. GW is the “Chinese Democracy” versions of Axel and GNR. Sure, they’ve got some new, young talent, but next year Tyler Cavanaugh will join Joe McDonald, Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino in the professional world and what is GW left with really? Is this the beginning of the end for GW? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s certainly a brand new era that’s starting with a ton of question marks.
FORDHAM (10-4, 4-7): Present day Axl
Look, if I’m being real, I think Axl is probably done. He’s attempted many comebacks but it might just be time to hang up the biker shorts. Fordham seemed as if they were going to be able to turn things around under first year head coach Jeff Neubauer, but have followed that up with yet another Fordham-like season, once again a losing team with little fan support and no real signs of a promising future. Sure, the Rams have pulled off two nice wins over VCU and Davidson, but even Axl is capable of killing a karaoke night once or twice a year.
SAINT JOSEPH’S (10-13, 3-8): Arrested multiple times young Axl
Saint Joseph’s has basically had a recent pattern of good year, bad year that should give Hawk fans hope for the future. After finishing 8-8 in conference in 2013, Martelli and Co. bounced back to win the conference tournament the following season. They then followed that up with a 7-11 down year in 2015 before once again winning the A-10 tournament in 2016. SJU has had to deal with injuries and a young roster this season, going 3-8 so far, but like the often arrested young version of Axl, have had a pattern of bouncing back big. It’s a fool’s errand to count out a young version of Axl. Same goes for any young version of a Phil Martelli coached team.
SAINT LOUIS (8-16, 3-8): Rapidfire Axl, 1983
Rapidfire wasn’t very good, and the majority (3/4) of its members would go on to basically do nothing in their music careers, but for a young Bill Baily — the then-stage name of Axl — it was the start of a promising future. Right now new SLU head coach Travis Ford is working with one of SLU’s least talented rosters we’ve seen in a long while, but don’t underestimate the difference a few good players can make (see: this year’s La Salle team versus last year’s). Ford will bring in one of the A-10’s best recruiting classes next season while adding Michigan State transfer Javon Bess, a Rivals top-125 player out of high school. The situation is virtually identical to what Axl went through in the early and mid-80s. Not a lot of hype right now but don’t be surprised if we’re all trying to party with these guys later.
UMASS (12-12, 2-9): Heavier Axl
Like the later-in-life, somewhat heavier version of Axl, UMass is talented but basically playing without a plan or much hope for success. Both are/were a hot mess. With proper coaching I think that Axl could’ve still been really good, but basically like watching UMass’ offense in action, you just know you’re watching an avoidable train wreck. On paper there is just so much talent on this UMass team. Rashaan Holloway is easily one of my favorite A-10 players and I think one of the most dangerous players in the conference (and I won’t be surprised if Power-5 assistants aren’t trying to figure a way to lead him out of Amherst). You’ve also got the versatile Donte Clark and a promising freshmen duo of Dejon Jarraeu and Luwane Pipkins, but as long as this terrible three-point shooting team is making the poor decision of shooting 41.5% of their shots beyond the arc, they will, like heavy Axl, allow poor decision making to tank what could be a good year.
DUQUESNE (9-15, 2-9): Old Axl riding a scooter through an airport
What’s sadder than watching an old one-legged version of Axl Rose scoot through an airport? Watching Duquesne basketball right now. The Dukes have lost their last seven — albeit against a damn tough stretch of games — and have a road contest at SLU awaiting them on Saturday. The Dukes defeated the Billikens 73-66 at home earlier in the season, a game just 1,070 people were there to witness. Like Axl at that point in his life, Duquesne has next to no support, drawing an A-10 worst 1170 fans per game this season, about 1/4 of the A.J. Palumbo Center’s capacity. That’s the equivalent of watching Axl in front of 25 fans at the Viper Room. Sad.