Conference Tip-Off Primer: Atlantic 10

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic 10 may be the premier mid-major conference heading into conference play with a slew of very good teams in the mix. Who are the teams to watch as the season continues to push to a tremendous tournament in Brooklyn?

Conference Standings:

Rank School Record
1 Massachusetts Minutemen 12-1
2 Saint Louis Billikens 13-2
3 George Washington Colonials 12-2
t-4 Dayton Flyers 12-3
t-4 VCU Rams 12-3
6 Saint Bonaventure Bonnies 10-4
7 Saint Joseph's Hawks 9-4
8 Richmond Spiders 10-5
9 Rhode Island Rams 9-6
10 Duquesne Dukes 7-5
t-11 Fordham Rams 7-6
t-11 La Salle Explorers 7-6
13 George Mason Patriots 7-7

Leading Scorers:

Rank Player PPG
1 Jon Severe (Fordham) 20.5
2 Cedrick Lindsay (Richmond) 18.6
3 Branden Frazier (Fordham) 18.5
4 Ovie Soko (Duquesne) 18.1
5 Langston Galloway (St. Joe's) 16.9

Top Rebounders:

Rank Player RPG
1 Cady Lalanne (UMass) 9.8
2 Steve Zack (LaSalle) 9.1
3 Ovie Soko (Duquesne) 8.8
t-4 Ronald Roberts (St. Joe's) 7.8
t-4 Halil Kanacevic (St. Joe's) 7.8

Assists Leaders:

Rank Player APG
1 Chaz Williams (UMass) 7.6
2 Jordair Jett (SLU) 5.0
3 Branden Frazier (Fordham) 4.6
t-4 Cedrick Lindsay (Richmond) 4.5
t-4 Charlon Kloof (St. Bonaventure) 4.5
t-4 Briante Weber (VCU) 4.5

Biggest Surprise:

George Washington has surprised many, but not me. While the top of the conference is deep and loaded, I think the bottom of the conference may be the biggest surprise. No one thought Mason would be this far down the standings thus far, despite being the new kids on the block. But what about Duquesne? I was gearing up for an atrocious year for the Dukes, but they've found a way to have a winning record. Of course, six of their seven wins came against 300+ ranked level of opponents and they did lose to a bad New Hampshire squad, but give them credit for being above LaSalle and George Mason at this point. Speaking of LaSalle...what has happened to the Explorers?

Player of the Year:

This has to be "little big man" Chaz Williams from UMass. Williams has been electric for the Minutemen and is averaging 15.5 points, 7.6 assists, and 3.2 rebounds (not too shabby for a 5'9 bowling ball). UMass is currently ranked ninth in the country and second in our Mid-Major Madness Power 15, and that has to be because of Williams' play and maturation. The Minutemen are well on their way to dancing for the first time in 16 years.

Biggest Storyline:

VCU is always going to be the biggest storyline in the Atlantic 10, especially this year when the Rams shot up to a national top ten ranking and then came back to earth due to their play in Puerto Rico. Although UMass, Saint Louis, and others are off to great starts, the conference still views the Rams as the team to beat. Shaka Smart has trips to George Washington, Richmond, Dayton, Saint Louis, and UMass on his slate; where will these Rams be seeded in Brooklyn and how far can they go?

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