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What to make of the A-10 schedule pairings

Rhode Island can beef up its resume should an at-large bid be needed.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament-Rhode Island vs. St. Bonaventure Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

With each tick of the clock we are a second closer to the pure bliss of the return of college hoops. As we sit around and twiddle our thumbs we cannot help but examine every little nugget of information that comes out about the 2019-2020 college basketball season. Well, as we mine our way through the offseason, our pickaxes struck one of those little golden nuggets of information:

The summer event that is the A-10 pairings reveal.

Let’s start with the most disappointing news, Davidson and Dayton only have one regular season matchup in Dayton. The Wildcats and the Flyers are considered the main challengers to the cornucopia of talent that is VCU.

But that cornucopia, at least, will be challenged. VCU’s league pairings include seeing Davidson and Dayton each two times. The Rams will also lock horns with the Rhode Island, with whom they split their regular season games last year, before ultimately falling victim to URI in the A-10 tournament quarterfinals.

Speaking of (URI) Rams, the university in the country’s smallest state will have a big opportunity in conference play after a loaded non-conference schedule. The Rams were paired with the three projected A-10 powerhouses Davidson, Dayton, and VCU. This means more chances to win big games, which means a bigger chance to get to the big dance. It’s a big deal.

However, remember when URI dropped five games in a row in the middle of A-10 play last year? The Rams got torched at Davidson, absolutely throttled at home against Dayton, accounted for 33 percent of Fordham’s conference victories with a demoralizing loss at home in overtime, then had to go to VCU only to be beaten to a pulp, and wrapped it up with another loss against Davidson at home. So with a big chance comes a big risk as URI could very well find themselves with one of the toughest stretches in the entire conference, that could even result in some heinous losses to cellar dwellers.

As we continue to look through the pairings, Saint Louis’ pod jumps out. The Billikens have a relatively weak series of home and homes with Dayton, Duquesne, La Salle, UMass and Saint Joseph’s. A weaker conference strength of schedule means a greater chance at a higher seed in the A-10 tournament, which is great news for the defending champs, who lost key pieces Tramaine Isabell Jr. and Javon Bess. Another positive for the Bilikens is that they will get home-court advantage against tough opponents, as VCU and St. Bonaventure will have to travel to Saint Louis.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Jordan Goodwin could be the man to lead the Bilikens through A-10 play
Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

As stated, the Bonnies will make that 662-mile trek to Saint Louis for a rematch of last season’s A-10 championship game, along with trips to Dayton and VCU. However, that’s the only time they will see those two, and additionally only have to play Davidson once at home.

The bottom line for St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis is that weaker conference schedules mean potentially better seeding in the A-10 tournament should they take care of business. On the flip side, having more chances at key wins over the top teams in the A-10 hinders their ability secure an at-large bid and could lead to a disappointing snub on Selection Sunday. Obviously these two teams played for A-10 title and bid last season, but VCU, Davidson, and Dayton are legitimate powerhouses and make the road for a sleeper to secure a definite bid extremely difficult.