There are four teams in Division I that call themselves the Rams. Three of them play in the Atlantic 10.
VCU is the alpha Ram. The Rocky Mountain Ram. The VCU Rams earned the 1 seed in the 2019 Atlantic 10 Tournament by winning their final 12 games and finishing 16-2 in-conference overall. VCU has a double-bye, so we won’t see them play until Friday afternoon when they face the winner of Rhode Island (more Rams!) and La Salle.
Rhode Island is the second-best Ram in the field. We’ll call them the Black Hawaiian Ram. They don’t grow quite as big as the Rocky Mountain Ram, but are still formidable in their own right.
Then there’s Fordham, the lamb with nodular worms. Small, malnourished, and unlikely to live past Wednesday, the infected lamb can be picked off quickly... perhaps by a spider (they’re playing Richmond, you see).
(all times Eastern)
First Round: Wednesday, March 13, ESPN+
Game 1: No. 12 George Washington vs. No. 13 Massachusetts, 1 p.m.
Game 2: No. 11 Richmond vs. No. 14 Fordham, 3:30 p.m.
Second Round: Thursday, March 14, NBC Sports Network
Game 3: No. 8 Rhode Island vs. No. 9 La Salle, Noon
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. No. 5 George Mason, 2:30 p.m
Game 5: No. 7 Duquesne vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s, 6 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. No. 6 Saint Louis, 8:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals: Friday, March 15, NBC Sports Network
Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. No. 1 VCU, Noon
Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. No. 4 St. Bonaventure, 2:30 p.m.
Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. No. 2 Davidson, 6 p.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 6 vs. No. 3 Dayton, 8:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Saturday, March 16, CBS Sports Network:
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 1 p.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 3:30 p.m.
Championship: Sunday, March 17, CBS:
Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12, 1 p.m.
VCU: YOU DON’T WANNA GO TO WAR WITH THE RA-AMS (don’t start no stuff, won’t be no stuff)
VCU has the type of roster where you look at it and go, “how the hell was this team picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 and how the hell were we okay with that?” Marcus Evans is VCU’s Atlantic 10 first-team representative as the team’s leading scorer (14.2 ppg), assist man (3.3 apg), and steal-getting-human (1.9 spg). But the Rocky Mountain Rams have plenty of weapons. De’Riante Jenkins is a 34 percent three-point shooter. Isaac Vann scored 11 a game and shoots better than 82 percent from the line. And Marcus Santos-Silva is one of the best rebounders in the league.
Davidson: Okay, these aren’t Rams. These are Wildcats. And these Wildcats might have the two best players in the A-10 in Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson. Grady entered the season amid NBA chatter, but missed five games due to injury and went through a minor lull in February. He’s still a nightly 20-point threat and can score in just about any way you ask him to. Then there’s Gudmundsson, the conference player of the year. He seem to play 41 out of every 40 minutes, is a consistent three-point shooter and ranked fifth in the A-10 in assist rate. The Wildcats have the firepower. They just lost one too many conference games to be the 1-seed.
The Dark Horses:
Dayton: Dayton’s that team that has hung around near the bubble all year and you’re not really sure why. The Flyers did close the season winning five of six, but that one loss was a bad one to Rhode Island. Realistically, they need to win the A-10 Tournament to get a bid, but it could happen. They play at one of the slowest paces in the nation but are deadly efficient offensively. In fact, only two teams in America shoot at a higher rate from two-point range.
St. Bonaventure: Yeah, the Bonnies are here. I know, it’s a stretch. But they earned at least a shoutout. They’ve won seven of their last eight albeit none of those games against the top three seeds. No time like the present, though. The Bonnies’ chances will depend on which Courtney Stockard decides to show up.
Saint Louis: Yeah, the Billikens under-performed this year. By a lot. But they’ve still got a ton of talent, led by A-10 defensive player of the year Javon Bess and all-defensive team member Hasahn French.
We get a whole lotta Peppas this week at Barclays Center as VCU cuts down the nets on Sunday.