Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:54 pm

Atlantic 10 quarterfinals preview

Things will heat up in Atlantic City on Friday, as the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals get underway – and that’s when it gets fun. There’s two locks for the NCAA tournament, three bubble teams, and three teams looking to ruin all the hopes for everyone. In such a tight conference, everything is wide-open. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few upsets on Thursday.

No. 1 Temple vs. No. 8 Massachusetts: This should be an interesting game, a rematch of Temple’s 90-88 overtime victory over UMass on February 29. The Minutemen were in the mix for a league title until the final couple weeks of the season, and they will try to speed the game up. Temple is looking to solidify a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.

No. 4 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 5 Saint Joseph’s: A must-win for Saint Joseph’s if it wants to keep its at-large hopes alive. It’s also a rematch of the regular-season finale, which saw the Bonnies come out with a double-overtime victory – a win that severely crippled the Hawks’ resume. It should be an interesting battle down low, as SJU defends two-pointers very well, but Andrew Nicholson is dominant.

No. 2 Saint Louis vs. No. 7 La Salle: Saint Louis likely locked up a bid with its win over Xavier last week, but La Salle is no easy out. The Explorers slumped in February, losing five of six games at one point, but they also have the pieces to win some games. The first time these two teams played, Saint Louis went into Philadelphia and came out with a 59-51 win.

No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 6 Dayton: Easily the game of the night. Neither team really likes each other, and they split the two regular-season meetings, with the latter one going to overtime. Moreover, both teams are on the bubble. Xavier is slightly ahead in the pecking order, but a win here by the Flyers would do wonders for their profile. The PG battle between Tu Holloway and Kevin Dillard will be fun.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:49 pm

What-to-know conference previews: Atlantic 10

The Atlantic 10 has a chance to be one of the more intriguing conference tournaments this week. Throughout the season, it was extremely competitive and no one team really dominated and forced its will on the rest of the league. Even the two teams that didn’t reach the tournament – Fordham and Rhode Island – pulled off wins over Saint Louis, Dayton, Massachusetts and La Salle within the conference this season. Eight of the 12 teams finished on the right side of .500 in league play.

In addition to the high level of competition in Atlantic City this week, there is also a lot on the line in terms of at-large bids. Temple is a lock, Saint Louis is in pretty good shape despite a fairly barren profile, but there are at least three other teams looking for a bid. Xavier has been up and down for the last three months, but the Musketeers are in the mix. Dayton has a strange profile, but the Flyers still have a shot, as does Saint Joseph’s.

Four teams get a bye in the quarterfinals, including a St. Bonaventure team that surprised its way to 10 conference wins. Atlantic City is always fun, but it’s going to take on some extra excitement this week. (Note: The first-round games take place at campus sites.)


No. 8 Massachusetts vs. No. 9 Duquesne:
Massachusetts was in the mix for a regular-season title until dropping four of its final six games to end the season. With that said, the Minutemen are difficult to play due to their extremely fast pace and aggressive defense. It will be interesting to see if Duquesne can take care of the ball; we know the Dukes like to run too.

No. 5 Saint Joseph’s vs. No. 12 Charlotte: Saint Joseph’s was making a run at an at-large bid, but the Hawks lost at home to Richmond two weeks ago, and then followed up a win over Temple with a road loss at St. Bonaventure in double overtime. Short of a trip to the title game, and Phil Martelli’s crew might be in the NIT. Charlotte has lost five of its last six games.

No. 6 Dayton vs. No. 11 George Washington: Despite getting little publicity from bracketology types, Dayton is still in the hunt for an at-large bid. The Flyers have wins over Temple, Saint Louis, Alabama, Xavier and Ole Miss, with an 8-7 record against the top 100. However, they also have four sub-100 losses. George Washington has lost nine of its last 11 heading into the tourney.

No. 7 La Salle vs. No. 10 Richmond: La Salle was one of the bigger surprises in the conference this season, getting out to a 6-2 record in the first half of the season. Losses in five of six games in February ended the Explorers’ chance at a regular-season championship, but they are very solid at both ends of the floor. Richmond has won three of four, including wins over Saint Joseph’s and Dayton.

-- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2011 3:08 pm

Welcome to the Dance, Richmond Spiders

Heading into the Atlantic 10 tournament, Richmond needed to win at least one game to still feel relatively safe about an NCAA tournament bid. The Spiders took it a couple of steps further, making a run to the conference title game and then defeating No. 9 seed Dayton, 67-54, to win the automatic bid. Richmond used defense to win the title, holding its opponents to an average of 51 points in the three games.

The Spiders have reached the NCAA tournament eight times in their 94-year history, and this will be their second time making back-to-back appearances. Their best finish in the postseason came in 1988, when 13-seeded Richmond entered the Big Dance as a No. 13 seed and pulled off an upset of Indiana before knocking off Georgia Tech in the second round. In 1991, the Spiders had the first 15-over-2 upset in tournament history, beating Syracuse in the first round.

Player to know: Justin Harper. Harper teams with point guard Kevin Anderson (right) to form one of the best inside-outside tandems in the country. He is an inside-outside threat, capable of creating match-up problems against nearly any opponent. Harper is a highly efficient offensive player, while also dominating the glass. He post two of his six double-doubles in the last four games – Harper is ready to go for the NCAA tournament.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 27-7, 13-3 Atlantic 10.
  • Team colors: Red and blue.
  • We’re thinking: 10-seed.
  • KenPom ranking: 47
  • RPI: 42
  • Best win: Purdue (25-7)
  • Worst loss: Georgia Tech (13-18)
  • Notable stat: The Spiders rank seventh in the country in 3-point percentage, knocking down 40.7 percent of their outside shots.
  • Most recent tournament history: 2010. Earned a No. 7 seed, but was upset in the first round by Saint Mary’s.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2011 4:04 am

Atlantic 10 championship game preview

The Atlantic 10 didn’t get enough attention during the regular season, for all the success that the top of the league sustained. Well, that will change on Sunday – all eyes will be on the A 10 championship game between No. 3 Richmond and No. 9 Dayton. Bubble boys are rooting heavily for the Spiders, as a Dayton victory would take one of the few remaining at-large bids.

Richmond (26-7, 13-3) played itself into the NCAA tournament by beating Temple in the semifinals, a win that should get the Spiders an at-large bid should they fall on Sunday. They have won six in a row since losing by 20 to Temple on February 17. In the conference tournament, Richmond defeated Rhode Island in the quarterfinals before knocking off the Owls. The Spiders have allowed 49.5 points per game in the tourney.

The Spiders are solid at both ends of the floor. Offensively, they take care of the ball and live behind the arc. On the defensive end, they guard the 3-point line very well and are disciplined. Richmond has one of the best duos around in guard Kevin Anderson and forward Justin Harper. Anderson has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games, while Harper is a match-up nightmare. Kevin Smith is a defensive stopper and Dan Geriot is the key – when he is making shots, the Spiders are tough.

Dayton (22-12, 7-9) was a disappointment for much of the season, coming into the campaign with NCAA tournament expectations and then stumbling to a below-.500 finish in the Atlantic 10. The Flyers turned it around in the conference tournament, though, blowing out Massachusetts in the opening round before holding on to beat top-seeded Xavier. In the semifinals, they ended No. 12 Saint Joseph’s dream of dancing.

The Flyers aren’t your typical No. 9 seed. They play outstanding defense, controlling the glass and forcing opponents to take difficult perimeter shots. Offensively, Dayton thrives on second chances and 3-point shots. Chris Wright and Chris Johnson form a very solid forward tandem, with both players capable of big nights. Wright had 17 points and 15 rebounds on Saturday, while Johnson scored 19. Freshman point guard Juwan Staten is an excellent distributor. The Flyers have plenty of depth on the bench as well.

The first time these two teams played each other, Richmond emerged victorious on the road, beating the Flyers by nine. The perimeter shooting battle is going to be a key. Dayton guards the arc very effectively, but Richmond’s offensive is predicated on knocking down outside shots. Can the Flyers’ bigs step out and guard Harper and Geriot? On the other side, Richmond needs to box out and not allow Dayton to get multiple opportunities.

Richmond has likely punched its ticket to the dance regardless of the outcome, so it will be interesting to see if the Spiders play with the same sense of urgency they did against Temple. If they don’t, Dayton will step on the Spiders. If Richmond carries over its momentum, though, Dayton could have trouble keeping up. The match-up between Justin Harper and Chris Wright will be fun to watch, as both players could have NBA futures. The difference might be Kevin Anderson – he is a veteran point guard going against a freshman in Juwan Staten.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 2:13 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 2:14 am

A-10 semifinals a perfect storm of intrigue

The Atlantic 10 conference tournament is currently a nightmare for the last teams on the bubble. Friday’s action was something of a perfect storm for fans of bid thieves, as the A-10 featured multiple upsets. No matter what happens on Saturday, the league will have one of the most intriguing title games come Sunday.

Dayton and Xavier kicked Friday off in impressive fashion, with Dayton jumping out to an early lead over the regular-season champion. Xavier came back, only to see Luke Fabrizius hit two foul shots with six seconds left to give Dayton the win. Shockingly, the ninth-seeded Flyers will face No. 12 Saint Joseph’s in the semifinals. The Hawks defeated Duquesne in overtime, 93-90, behind 28 points from Carl Jones.

The bottom of the bracket was far more normal, with Richmond and Temple both advancing. The Spiders kept their at-large hopes alive by beating Rhode Island, while the Owls dominated La Salle to cruise into the semifinals.

Dayton (9) vs. Saint Joseph’s (12): The Flyers came into the season as one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10. They have been a disappointment for the most part, but they are just two wins from rectifying the situation and getting to the NCAA tournament. Saint Joseph’s struggled all season, having two separate losing streaks of at least six games. The battle at the point guard position will be entertaining, with Carl Jones of SJU going against assist extraordinaire Juwan Staten. The Hawks might not have the frontcourt personnel to battle with Dayton’s Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson.

Temple (2) vs. Richmond (3): A rematch of the Spiders’ last loss, a 20-point defeat on the road. Richmond has done what it needed to do in order to stay in the at-large race: avoid bad losses and continue to win. A win over the Owls would likely clinch a bid. The key for Richmond will be its ability to knock down the 3-pointer. Temple is vulnerable on the perimeter, and the Spiders make a killing behind the arc. On the other side, Richmond needs to keep Lavoy Allen off the offensive glass. The battle on the perimeter between Richmond’s Kevin Anderson and Temple’s Juan Fernandez will also be fun to watch.

Updated Atlantic 10 Tournament Bracket

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 5:59 pm

Atlantic 10 Conference tournament preview

When is the last time the Atlantic 10 was getting so little attention on a national level? The conference and its members have been flying below the radar all season, especially regular-season champion Xavier (24-6, 15-1) and second-place finisher Temple (24-6, 14-2). Both teams are locks for the NCAA Tournament and are legitimate threats to reach the Sweet 16. Throw in Richmond (24-7, 13-3), and it’s a wonder why the A-10 was so quiet this season.

Outside of those three, there was a pile-up in the middle of the standings, with six teams finishing within three games of each other from fourth to ninth place. Only 12 teams reach the conference tournament in Atlantic City, meaning the seasons of Charlotte and Fordham are already finished. Given the parity in the middle of the conference, there is an opportunity for a sleeper to emerge out of the pack and make a run towards an automatic bid.

Heading into the conference tournament, Xavier and Temple are the two favorites to get the auto-bid. Xavier fought through adversity and other personnel losses to win the regular-season title, losing just one conference game all season – to Charlotte, no less. The Musketeers love to attack the rim and finish in the paint or get fouled, and they also defend the basket and rebound tremendously well at the other end. Tu Holloway is one of the best guards in the country, capable of carrying Xavier to a win or two. Mark Lyons is an underrated sidekick, while Kenny Frease and Jamel McLean provide inside production.

Temple was the preseason favorite, and the Owls are hitting their stride at the right time. They ended the season by winning 11 straight conference games, with only four coming by single-digits. Offensively, Temple takes smart shots and doesn’t turn the ball over. At the other end, they are a lockdown unit, guarding the paint and avoid unnecessary fouls. The Owls have had different players step up all season, and they will need that to happen in the postseason. Michael Eric and Scootie Randall are injured, meaning guards Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez need to provide consistent offense and big Lavoy Allen needs to be aggressive and dominant down low.

The two biggest threats to Xavier and Temple are Richmond and Duquesne (18-11, 10-6). Richmond has the league’s best duo in guard Kevin Anderson and forward Justin Harper, while forward Dan Geriot has been the X-factor for the Spiders. They love shooting the 3-pointer – if they get hot, look out. One win in the tourney could lock up a bid. Duquesne had a hot start in A-10 play, but lost six of its final eight games to fall in the standings. The Dukes love getting up and down the court, ranking first in the country in turnover percentage. Bill Clark and Damian Saunders are difficult match-ups, and T.J. McConnell is an underrated freshman

If you want a sleeper, look not further than the league’s biggest disappointment. Dayton (19-12, 7-9) had high hopes this season, but stumbled throughout the campaign, dropping a non-conference game to East Tennessee State and also losing by 34 to Cincinnati. A 7-9 A-10 record means people could be overlooking the Flyers. With Juwan Staten at the point and Chris Wright and Chris Johnson up front, though, this is still a formidable group.

Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Bracket

Top Three Players:

1. Tu Holloway, Xavier
2. Justin Harper, Richmond
3. Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

  • Conference RPI: 9
  • KenPom.com Conference Ranking: 9
  • Sagarin Conference Ranking: 9
NCAA Tournament Locks: Xavier, Temple
NCAA Bubble Teams: Richmond

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance

  • Dayton: 2009 (lost to Kansas, second round)
  • Duquesne: 1977 (lost to VMI, first round)
  • George Washington: 2007 (lost to Vanderbilt, first round)
  • La Salle: 1992 (lost to Seton Hall, first round)
  • Massachusetts: 1998 (lost to Saint Louis, first round)
  • Rhode Island: 1999 (lost to Charlotte, first round)
  • Richmond: 2010 (lost to Saint Mary’s, first round)
  • St. Bonaventure: 2000 (lost to Kentucky, first round)
  • Saint Joseph’s: 2008 (lost to Oklahoma, first round)
  • Saint Louis: 2000 (lost to Utah, first round)
  • Temple: 2010 (lost to Cornell, first round)
  • Xavier: 2010 (lost to Kansas State, Sweet 16)

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Category: NCAAB
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