The Atlantic 10 Tournament kicked off Wednesday with two opening round games that saw Duquesne and Fordham move on and Saint Louis and George Mason head home (bye bye Paul Hewitt). Today the schedule is highlighted by four, let's call them first round, match ups in Brooklyn.
We'll keep you posted here all week as the A10 navigates through the world's most confusing TV slate featuring six different networks. Today's games will be on the NBC Sports Network. I REPEAT NBC SPORTS NETWORK!
Here is a not so live look at the bracket:
#8 Massachusetts vs #9 La Salle, Noon
The first game today might just be the best and I'm pretty sure Bob McKillop and Davidson won't be super excited to take on either of these teams. On Valentines Day UMass looked like a squad ready to surge for an at-large bid as the Minutemen had won six straight and had a 16-9 overall mark. Instead of competing for an at-large Derek Kellogg's squad dropped five of their last six games and limp into Brooklyn. The good news is UMass swept the regular season series against the Explorers and any team with Derrick Gordon and Cady Lalanne is going to remain dangerous.
La Salle has a bit of a similar story as they have dropped five of their last seven games but beat Dayton this past Saturday to close out the conference slate. Like UMass there are a couple of guys that make the Explorers dangerous in Jordan Price, Jerrell Wright, and Steve Zack.
The Vegas lean on this one is La Salle -1 and I'd take it. After all, their coach is a doctor.
#12 Fordham vs #5 VCU, 2:30 PM
I'm picking the Rams in this one!
Sorry, I'm sure that jokes has never been used in the A10 before. VCU should be able to throttle Fordham in this matinee game but there is always the chance that Shaka Smart's squad is looking ahead to Round 3 against crosstown rival Richmond tomorrow afternoon. Treveon Graham just needs to be a rock in this tournament for VCU to succeed and the Rams either need to get their guards to start turning the ball over or commit to a more halfcourt style of play behind Jonathan Williams.
Fordham is coming off a 71-65 win over George Mason last night and I guess the biggest thing Tom Pecora has going for him is youth at this point. Maybe youthful ignorance turns into energy and courage for the likes of Jon Severe, Eric Paschall, and Christian Sengfelder?
#7 St. Bonaventure vs #10 St. Joseph's, 6:30 PM
It's going to take a miracle run for Phil Martelli's Hawks to defend their A10 crown in Brooklyn and they'll start that quest with a team that beat them twice this season in the Bonnies. At the very least you can enjoy DeAndre Bembry who has the best afro in the Atlantic 10, sorry Justin Tillman.
In all honesty this one should be close and the Bonnies are only favored by three points. Marcus Posley is always fun to watch but St. Bonaventure's biggest downfall in this tournament is going to be depth as they have five players who averaged over 31 minutes per game and they are down one of those guys Jaylen Adams.
The winner in this one moves on to meet Dayton tomorrow.
#11 Duquesne vs #6 George Washington, 9 PM
The day is capped off with a likely angry George Washington squad against a Duquesne team hoping to pull some momentum from a win over Saint Louis last night. GW looked like a tournament team in late January until these same Dukes took down the Colonials and set off a four game skid.
Mike Lonergan's international men of mystery are the dark horses in this tournament. We all know the level that GW can play at and the Colonials have shown some life recently destroying George Mason, UMass, and St. Bonaventure and competing with the likes of Richmond and Davidson. Could this be the time of year that Patrico Garino, Kethan Savage, Kevin Larsen, Joe McDonald, and others finally click? If GW can match the offensive output they showed against UMass on Saturday then the Colonials are VERY dangerous with what should be a fun match up with Rhode Island tomorrow.
Speaking of fun, keep an eye on Duquesne's Micah Mason who likes to jack it from three and has finished in double-figures in eight of his last nine.