Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album was the first album I ever owned. It was a gift for my sixth birthday in 1986 and included such hits as “You Give Love a Bad Name”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and a song that would serve as the anthem for George Mason’s magical Final 4 run some 20 years after that b-day extravaganza of mine: “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
10 years after that Mason run the Patriots dealt a blow to a Richmond Spiders team last night who will now be doing a bit of that prayer livin’, upsetting a promising Spiders squad on their home court and turning a hopeful season at UofR into a disappointment thus far, dragging the Spiders into this year’s A-10 peloton — and toward the back of it — eight teams who will now attempt to catch league-leaders VCU, Dayton and Saint Joseph’s.
CHASE GROUP TIER 1: DESTINY CONTROLLERS
St. Bonaventure (6-3) – The Bonnies did themselves a HUGE favor last night, rocking Saint Joseph’s to the tune of a 10-point road win in the Hawks’ Michael J. Hagan Arena. The Bonnies have just three games remaining against the kenpom top-100 teams, hosting both GW and Saint Joseph’s with a road game at Dayton plus a home game against No.129 Duquesne who have already beaten the Bonnies once this season. Long story short, that is a very favorable schedule and one kenpom’s computers like to see St. Bonaventure to a top-four seed at a projected A-10 finish of 13-5.
George Washington (6-3) – GW’s schedule ups its degree of difficulty these next three, heading to VCU this weekend before hosting Saint Joseph’s. They follow those two up with a tough game at St. Bonaventure. The Saint Louis loss was a killer and the type of slip-up that could cost them a top-four seed unless they can steal a few to make up for it. Seven of their final nine are all very losable games and with that kenpom sees them finishing 11-7 and the fifth seed come Brooklyn.
CHASE GROUP TIER 2: IN THE HUNT
Duquesne (5-4) – No reason to hang your head if you are the Dukes right now. Four completely forgivable losses: v Dayton, at Davidson, at GW and at VCU (most teams lose those games). They own a nice win against Bona and outside of that have held serve for the most part, winning the ones they are supposed to win. They’ll be challenged by a tough finishing schedule that includes four top-100 road games at Dayton, Rhody, Bona and Saint Joseph’s which combined with home challenges against Davidson, GW and Richmond might provide just enough losses to force a Thursday tourney game and a four-game road to an A-10 tourney championship.
Rhode Island (4-5) – Injuries have completely derailed what was setup to be a big season for Dan Hurley and the Rams. There are some wins to be had with the rest of their schedule but after falling at UMass it’s hard to have confidence in this banged up squad. Throw in two games against Dayton and a road game at VCU (not-to-mention a tough one at Davidson) and it’s looking like Rhody will be playing on Thursday this March.
Davidson (4-5) – Road losses at Bona, Dayton and GW with a home loss against a tough VCU team. No shame in that. But throw in that L at Saint Louis and Davidson is kicking themselves. The schedule doesn’t let up a ton and with that they are a projected 9-9 A-10 team according to my boy Pomeroy.
THE LONG SHOTS
Richmond (3-6) – Another promising team heading into this season, the Spiders had NCAA tournament dreams after finishing fourth in the A-10 last season. Those dreams are now 100% attached to a four-day run in Brooklyn after dropping a home game to a young and rebuilding George Mason program last night. I like Richmond to get back to .500 by winning their next three but unfortunately it appears they’d have to come close to winning out to secure a top-four seed. With games remaining at Davidson, at VCU, at Duquesne and against GW and Dayton, that’s a highly-unlikely scenario. Would be fun to watch though, wouldn’t it?
Fordham (3-6) – I think a finish of 10th or better in this conference would be a welcomed improvement for this Fordham program. Their six losses were all expected, all but one (v No.104 Richmond) coming at the hands of kenpom top-100s. The Rams can make a bit of a statement over these next three, hosting Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure before traveling to Richmond. After that they’ll hit their most winnable stretch of the season, taking on UMass, SLU and La Salle. They’ll probably need all of those to come out of this season feeling any bit satisfied. While I think their potential is better than their record indicates, Fordham won’t sniff a top-four seed due to a remaining schedule that’s just too much for them at this point in their rebuild.