Folks I’ve got that Friday feeling, and it’s time to deliver that hot and ready content that you crave.
This week’s #5QuestionFriday covers Atlantic 10 stars, the conferences with the best chances at multiple bids, and a few other teams that we don’t discuss quite as often. Enjoy.
Can Vermont maintain their regular season AEC dominance without Trae Bell-Haynes?— Craig Popp (@CraigPopp) July 12, 2018
Amid all the hullabaloo that we’ve caused online with UMBC’s historic upset over Virginia, it’s easy to forget that it was Vermont that dominated the America East for the second straight year. Craig poses a good question. Is there any reason to believe that Vermont isn’t the team to beat once again?
The initial thinking is no. Vermont still brings back key contributors like Ernie and Everett Duncan, and Anthony Lamb should still be considered one of the best mid-major players in the country. Is that enough to go something similar to 16-0 or 15-1 like the last two years in the America East? Probably not. Is Vermont still the favorite to win the league? Yes, just not quite in such a dominant fashion as we’ve seen.
Can Cleveland State build on their Horizon League tournament run or will they be a trainwreck yet again— Joe Yurik (@JYurik) July 12, 2018
Save for the aforementioned Horizon League run, Cleveland State was not great last year. The Horizon League, in general, was not great. However, Cleveland State should be better in theory.
They’ll bring back a solid sophomore duo in Tyree Appleby and Stefan Kenic, who should carry the bulk of the scoring load. Kasheem Thomas also showed flashes last year and should be able to solidify the backcourt with Appleby. Are they going to dominate the Horizon League? Unlikely, but they can definitely build upon last season’s run and continue moving forward in Dennis Felton’s second year there.
How does Monmouth rebound from last year's 20 loss season?— Marc Gump (@GumpHutch) July 12, 2018
It’s going to start with growth from their underclassmen. Deion Hammond and Ray Salnave had solid freshman campaigns in the absence of Micah Seaborn. Melik Martin should have a bigger role as well. If Nick Rutherford can come in and be a go-to guy, Monmouth should be able to improve on last year’s rough showing. It won’t be to the level of the seasons prior, but I think the 20 loss season was a bit of an outlier. They’re probably looking at being a middle of the pack MAAC team.
give me your 5 best players in the A10 heading into the season.— Sully (@sullymygoodname) July 12, 2018
This is a fun exercise because a lot of the Atlantic 10’s biggest names of recent years have graduated. TOP 5 ATLANTIC 10 PLAYERS NEXT YEAR IN NO ORDER:
- Kellan Grady - Davidson
- Luwane Pipkins - UMass
- Josh Cunningham - Dayton
- Tramaine Isabell - Saint Louis
- Grant Golden - Richmond
Please do not yell at me for leaving off your favorite player from your favorite team. I do not care.
Which mid-major league has the best odds to be two-bid worthy?— Alex Riley (@AlexRileySN) July 12, 2018
This may be the question that we answer most in the offseason. I’m sure that I, as well as others on this site, have answered this at some point in recent months. That’s okay!
The Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and WCC are always going to be contenders for multiple bids based on the quality of their programs. Aside from those conferences, here are a few that could maybe be sneaky contenders for two bids.
The Missouri Valley isn’t quite on the level of those above, but there is going to be plenty of quality teams in the league next year. All it takes is one or two to have a strong showing in non-conference play, and then suddenly they’re in the conversation for an at-large bid.
Another one that might not get brought up too often is Conference USA. They’ve come close in recent years to getting multiple bids, and it’ll be intriguing to see if the new scheduling format does exactly what it’s intended to, which is giving the league a shot at getting an at-large bid.