ATLANTIC 10 Conference
Record: 24-6, 13-3
If the Billikens make a run in this Tournament, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them grab a three-seed in the end. They are currently floating around in the five-seed range and should finish around that area. Saint Louis has jumped to the top of the A10 by playing good, team basketball. They have won 12 of their last 13 Games which includes two wins over Butler and a 14-point win over VCU. This is a team you don’t want to play right now.
They don’t shoot the ball great, which is worrisome, but their balanced play is what makes them good. With five players averaging at least 9.8 points per Game, not many other teams can say that. At any given point, one of those guys can step up and get a basket. Their defense is in your face and they have experience from being ousted in the Round of 32 in last year’s NCAA Tourney by No. 1 seed Michigan State. With the way they are playing, Saint Louis has a good shot at winning the A10 Tourney.
Record: 24-7, 12-4
This is an interesting team because they are no longer sleepers since everyone knows about them after their Final Four run a couple years ago. Their ‘Havoc’ defense is now known across the country, although that doesn’t make it easy to prepare for. VCU has shown they are still a tough team to play with a recent 32-point win over Butler, but some other questionable results have people wondering. In their last Game, the Rams let a 16-point lead slip away at Temple. They also have less than stellar losses to Richmond and LA Salle.
A rematch with Temple in the semifinals could take place which should be another interesting Game. With thieves Darius Theus and Briante Weber on defense (combined 5.4 steals per Game) and Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic on the offense end (combined 30.2 points per Game) they are tough to play. While they don’t have size, it’s not really needed with the type of defense they run.
Record: 23-8, 11-5
With their last win, the Owls moved closer to securing a NCAA Tourney bid and are sitting as an 11-seed in most projections. If they can win their first Game of this Tournament, it should be all but locked up. Led by A10 player of the year, Khalif Wyatt, this team has turned it on in the past month. After a home loss to Duquesne, Temple has reeled off seven straight wins, including a nice out-of-Conference win against Detroit. Their Duquesne and Canisius losses are unexplainable, but their wins over teams like VCU, Saint Louis and Syracuse have them on the bubble.
If the Owls can keep up their play, they won’t be a fun team to play in the Big Dance because their seeding will be so low. Remember, they only lost by seven points at Kansas earlier in the year. Keep an eye on how Temple performs in the A10 Tourney and they might become one of your favorites to upset in the NCAA’s.
Record: 21-8, 11-5
The Explorers are not in a great situation at the moment. They are one of the last Four teams in and will likely see Butler in their first Game of the A10 Tourney. If they can’t grab a win in that Game, who knows what’s going to happen, but it probably won’t be good. LA Salle beat the Bulldogs earlier in the season at home by one-point, but that was when they were without their leading scorer in Rotnei Clarke.
LA Salle is coming off a 24-point loss at Saint Louis and needs another win to impress the voters. No matter, it’s still good to see LA Salle in this situation as they weren’t given a thought early in the year. Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren average 32.4 PPG as a duo and will need to figure out a way to get through Butler’s tough defense.
Record: 24-7, 11-5
The Bulldogs are the five-seed in the A10 Tourney, but could easily wind up as a five or six seed in the NCAA Tourney. That’s what happens when you beat Indiana, North Carolina, Marquette and Gonzaga in non-Conference play. While Butler had great wins outside of the A10, they also have some interesting losses in Conference play. Charlotte is a decent squad, but there’s no reason why they should’ve lost to them at home. And is VCU really 32 points better than Butler? That’s hard to believe.
Led by Brad Stevens, this is a team that has had postseason success in recent years and is really not someone you want to see in any Tourney. While Clarke leads the team in scoring, they are very much like Saint Louis in that they have a balanced squad with plenty of scorers. They also have a couple shooters in Clarke and Kellen Dunham which helps open up the cOurt. This is a smart team that could easily make a run in the A10.
There are a few teams that can win this conference. Saint Louis, Butler and VCU all play great team basketball and are very athletic (less so Butler). On a neutral cOurt, the Rams might be the best team to jump on. They will have an easier route with potentially Xavier and Temple lined up for them in their first two Games. While every team in this Conference is familiar with Havoc, every Game is not the same.