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Wild first week opens Atlantic 10 play

“You’re never as good as you look in your best win or as bad as you look in your worst loss”

That is without a doubt one of my favorite sports sayings and one that rings especially true for George Washington this morning.

After a 10-1 start to their season including a home upset of then-No.6 UVA and a close neutral court loss to Cincinnati, GW became a hot name out of the Atlantic 10, grabbing votes to be included in the top-25 and some headlines along the way.

Since then GW has gone 2-2 in a stretch that includes a 21-point loss at DePaul and a three-point L at kenpom No.235, SLU, a team who had lost their three previous home games to the likes of Southern Illinois, Indiana State and Tennessee Martin.

You’re never as good as you look in your best win or as bad as you look in the your worst loss. Remember that.

MARTIN RETURNS FOR RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island’s Hassan Martin played just 11 minutes before going down early in a six-point non-conference loss at Old Dominion. Had the 6’7 big not turned his ankle that night in Norfolk, Rhody might be riding a five-game winning streak heading into a tough Sunday matchup at Saint Joseph’s.

The Rams escaped Brown in overtime, 88-85 in their first game without Martin, what would have been a terrible loss for Dan Hurley and Co., bounced back with an impressive 28-point home win over SLU then followed that up with a 12-point win over the Richmond Spiders in Martin’s first game back.

Martin came off the bench but logged 27 minutes in the win, a great sign for Dan Hurley’s team going forward. Rhody however will have a tough two-game road trip starting in Philly against Saint Joseph’s, then ending in Olean against a hot St. Bonaventure Bonnies team.

DYK?: Rhody’s offense has jumped into the top-100 in offensive efficiency thanks to improved three-point shooting (37.9% this season, up from 30.5% the previous year) that has resulted in an increase in the Rams’ effective field goal percentage — 48.9% last season, 50.4% this season. URI will hope that this more balanced Rams squad will be just what the doctor ordered after last season’s team ranked ninth nationally in defensive efficiency but just 196th on offense. Rhody is top-66 on both sides of the ball this season.

VCU RALLIES TO UPSET SAINT JOSEPH’S IN EPIC A-10 BATTLE

The black and gold Rams looked like the worst team in the Atlantic 10 for about 10 minutes in Tuesday night’s battle between VCU and Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. That 10 minutes being basically a combination of the first four minutes of the first half and the first six minutes of the second, where VCU was outscored 33-9. But as they say, it’s not how you start it’s how you finish, and the Rams finished with the lead in both halves, taking a 38-35 lead into halftime followed by a 85-82 win back to Richmond.

Isaiah Miles once again did his part in his breakout season for the Hawks, scoring a game-high 31 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds while DeAndre Bembry chipped in a ho-hum 17-point, 7-rebound, 8-assist line.

The Hawks out-rebounded VCU by six, shot 2.2% better from the field, attempted 12 more free throws thanks to 10 extra fouled called on VCU, had five more assists on the night…and lost.

It wasn’t your typical havoc-wreaking night for the Rams, turning SJU over just 13 times, yet somehow Will Wade and Co. managed to piece together a huge road win, moving VCU to 2-0 in Atlantic 10 play and owners of a key road win (not to mention the owners of a head-to-head tie-breaker against St. Joe’s come March). Only four A-10 teams remain perfect in conference play.

A-10 POWER RANKINGS

These mean nothing, but face it, you like reading them. Don’t you? DON’T YOU?

  1. Dayton – Deep, talented, well-coached and getting it done.
  2. VCU – Gritty and battle-tested. They find ways to win.
  3. Saint Joseph’s – Vastly improved thanks to Miles’ jump. Consistent and tough.
  4. Rhode Island – Talented and dangerous with Martin back but could easily drop next two.
  5. St. Bonaventure – Why not. Semi-unproven but have been more consistent than most teams below.
  6. GW – Too low? Perhaps. But hard to justify higher after last four games.
  7. Richmond – Better than record and probably this ranking, but ya gotta win games.
  8. Davidson – Deadly offense, horrible defense. Have looked bad against good teams. Probably better than No.8.
  9. Fordham – Vastly improved team under Neubauer. Turnover D matching VCU’s.
  10. Duquesne – Improved and dangerous but still lacking results against good teams.
  11. UMass – Who else do I put here?
  12. George Mason – Young team will struggle but nice pieces for future.
  13. SLU – GW win complicates things but previous evidence suggests it was a fluke.
  14. La Salle – Last D1 win was on Nov 23.

PREVIEWING WEEKEND MATCHUPS

DON’T MISS THESE…

Rhode Island at Saint Joseph’s – Two very tough teams facing off in Philly’s Hagan Arena in what promises to be a total street fight. Martin v Miles/Bembry? Sign me up.

Richmond at Fordham – The Spiders had high expectations after a nice non-conference showing but find themselves 0-2 in A-10 play headed to the Bronx to take on an improved Fordham team that is undefeated in Rose Hill this season. Love this matchup, love this game. Things get real for Fordham if they knock off the Spiders while things get real ugly on SpiderNation.com if UofR drops this road test against the Rams.

SET YOUR DVR…

St. Bonventure at UMass – Kenpom computers like Bona on the road…by 1…with a 55% chance to win. In other words we’re about to see a very good game.

Duquesne at George Washington – GW is looking to bounce back while the Dukes are just looking for an A-10 win. I think Colonials will prove too much at home but worth monitoring after GW’s recent struggles.

VCU at Saint Louis – VCU is coming off a tough road win at Saint Joseph’s while SLU is coming off a big home upset at GW. Rams will be the favorite but this one got a tad more interesting after Wednesday night’s action.

READ ABOUT LATER…

Dayton at La Salle – Best team in the conference against quite possibly the worst. Road game or not, Flyers by 20.

George Mason at Davidson – I don’t know, this one could maaaaybe end up as a surprising road upset thanks to the presence of Shavon Thompson but I’ll lean no. Patriots took last year’s Cats to OT in Fairfax but dropped their road game by 21, which is what leads me to believe this is less of an upset special as I think maybe it could be.