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Record: 26-5, 13-3
The Billikens looked a full head above the rest of the conference earlier in the year, but that has changed a bit. First, they started winning nail biters almost every night, and then they starting losing those close ones including a home loss to Duquesne. Due to Saint Louis’ inability to extend leads, it’s safe to say this tournament is wide open.
Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans are two of the best players in the conference, but they can only do so much. They should get by their first game without a scrap, but then Dayton or St. Joseph’s is on the slate for the semis.
Record: 24-7, 12-4
There’s not much that separates VCU and SLU. Of course, the Rams play a different brand of basketball with their full-court press, but if these teams face off the in the championship game, it could easily be a PK. VCU has jumped to a projected 6-seed in brackets and could even go higher with a good tournament.
The Rams have depth and a couple playmakers in Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic. They should get by Richmond in the first game, but then GW or UMass will be waiting. That will be a big game for both teams involved.
Record: 23-7, 11-5
The Colonials neutral-site win over Creighton earlier in the season is looming large. This is a team that can compete with most in the country. They have size and five guys that average double digits. If they can grab a couple wins in this tourney, a 7-seed is possible in the Big Dance.
Their first matchup will likely be UMass which is unlucky for them. They lost at home to UMass a few weeks ago if that says anything. The next day VCU could be in the waiting.
Record: 21-9, 11-5
The Hawks were looking like a lock for the NCAA tourney, but have lost two straight games, including one at home to La Salle in the finale. That’s not a great way to end the season and if they falter to Dayton in their first game here, St. Joe’s could be in trouble.
The good news is that the Hawks swept Dayton this year, including a 26-point win just two weeks ago. A win there would bring a likely matchup with SLU, who they lost to at home by 16 points.
Record: 22-9, 10-6
The Flyers made a strong case to the NCAA committee by winning their last three games against quality opponents, one of those being at Saint Louis. A loss in their first game to either George Mason or Fordham would not be good, but that seems far-fetched.
If they can continue their current run, Dayton has a decent shot of upsetting St. Joseph’s in the quarters and even beating SLU in the semis.
Record: 23-7, 10-6
The Minutemen started the season with a 16-1 record and some really nice wins, but it’s hard to get a read on them considering that they finished sixth in the A10. That’s not exactly a great endorsement for a team formerly ranked No. 13 in the country.
UMass should win their first game against Rhode Island and then will face George Washington, a team they already beat on the road this year. The Minutemen have the quality to win those two games, but can they go any further? It’s unlikely as they’ll be headed to about a 7-seed in the big tourney.
Everyone else in the conference fell off the bubble in recent weeks, including Richmond, who is on a four-game losing skid. Even if they win their first game, they’ll have to face VCU in the next round, a team they were swept by this season. La Salle is tricky team that has postseason experience, but hasn’t been able to do much this year. If they can get by St. Bonaventure’s, it’ll set up a nice game against Saint Louis.
With the way the last month has played out in this conference, VCU may be the favorite to win this tournament. Preparing for their full-court pressure is not easy on one day’s rest so that could come into play. The Billikens will hope to find their early season form before going into the NCAA tournament.
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