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.