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Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview: Bubble teams battle it out for an auto bid

Davidson will look to cap its amazing A10 season with its second A10 Tournament title.

Davidson v George Washington Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

With potentially only one at-large bid, the Atlantic 10 Tournament will be a battle! All five of the top teams think they have a chance at an at-large bid, but you’d have to assume that winning that conference championship game on Sunday will be a little less stressful.

Outside of that, it’s not looking too pretty. Some programs are beginning their rise to the top as others are ready for a coaching change.

There’s only one given over the next five days in the nation’s capital … it’s that it will be a boatload of fun.



Note: All games will take place at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC

First Round (Wednesday, March 9th), ESPN+

Game 1: No.13 Saint Joseph’s vs No.12 La Salle, 1 p.m. EST

Game 2: No.14 Duquesne vs No.11 Rhode Island, 3:30 p.m. EST

Second Round (Thursday, March 10th), USA Network

Game 3: No.9 George Mason vs No.8 Fordham, NOON EST

Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs No.5 Saint Louis, 2:30 p.m. EST

Game 5: No.10 UMass vs No.7 George Washington, 6 p.m. EST

Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs No.6 Richmond, 8:30 p.m. EST

Quarterfinals (Friday, March 11th), USA Network

Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs No.1 Davidson, NOON EST

Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs No.4 Saint Bonaventure, 2:30 p.m. EST

Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs No.2 Dayton, 6 p.m. EST

Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs No.3 VCU, 8:30 p.m. EST

Semifinals (Saturday, March 12th), CBS Sports Network

Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs Game 8 Winner, 1 p.m. EST

Game 12: Game 9 Winner vs Game 10 Winner, 3:30 p.m. EST

Finals (Sunday, March 13th), CBS

Game 13: Game 11 Winner vs Game 12 Winner, 1 p.m. EST

The Favorite

Davidson (25-5, 15-3): Winning the regular-season title in the Atlantic 10, Davidson was truly the best. Just like their fight song has always said.

The Wildcats finished as the 10th best offensive team in the country on KenPom and a lot of it was due to the work that league player of the year, Luka Brajkovic put in. Finishing the season ranked in the top 40 forty of both effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, the senior from Austria averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 points per game.

He wasn’t even a top two scorer on the team as Michigan State transfer Foster Loyer averaged 16.8 points per game and sensation Hyunjung Lee averaged 16.5 points per game.

None of it would be possible without the legend and coach of the year in the league, Bob McKillop. He will look to lead his team to yet another conference tournament title in his 33rd season.

The Darkhorses

VCU (21-8, 14-4): Currently sitting in Joe Lunardi’s Next Four Out, VCU has fought its way onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. Before a loss to Saint Louis on Saturday, the Rams were on an eight-game winning streak. The HAVOC defense is still there as they rank second in defensive turnover percentage, third in defensive 3-point percentage, fourth in defensive adjusted efficiency and defensive effective field goal percentage, and sixth in defensive steal percentage. They have a lethal three-headed scoring monster too in Vince Williams, Ace Baldwin and Keshawn Curry to boot.

Dayton (22-9, 14-4): The Flyers are currently in Lunardi’s First Four Out. Don’t tell Dayton fans that, a lot of their hopes are in the dumps after the La Salle loss last week. League Rookie of the Year, Daron Holmes, has been excellent for the Flyers. Not only is he one of the best defensive players in the league, but he leads the team in scoring, is 18th in the country in effective field goal percentage and is shooting 65.5% inside the arch. Add a whole bunch of other great pieces and Dayton is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. Now only if they can be consistent enough to win three games in three days.

Saint Bonaventure (20-8, 12-5): This was not the season that Bonnies fans expected. Peaking at No. 16 in the AP Top 25, the Bonnies opened with a 5-0 record. They then scratched and clawed themselves to an 8-3 nonconference, but this was supposed to be one of the best teams ever to come through the town of Olean or Allegany — who the hell knows where the campus actually is. Mark Schmidt runs all five of his starts over 30 minutes of action, with only one bench player playing over ten minutes of action. If they do get hot though, they can get scary. Who knows about their attrition though.

Saint Louis (21-10, 12-6): The Billikens are riding into the conference tournament on a high after snapping VCU’s eight-game winning streak. Once a bubble team, SLU is more than likely heading to the NIT unless they win four games in four days. They shoot the three-ball well and create a lot of second-chance opportunities, starting with Francis Okoro down low. Okoro averages 10.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, shooting 59% from the field. He complements their scary backcourt of Gibson Jimerson and Yuri Collins well. If the Billikens play like they did against teams like Boise State or Iona, SLU could turn some heads in the month of March.

The Longshots

Richmond (19-12, 11-4): This group of players has seemed to of been in Richmond for about eight years now. Nick Sherod is the best player in the nation in limiting turnovers and Tyler Burton and Grant Golden are a hassle to deal with down low. The Spiders just can’t seem to close out games against really good opponents this year. They only have one loss outside of the KenPom Top 110.

George Mason (14-15, 8-9): The culture is damn good in Fairfax. After a 4-0 start to the season that included a win at Maryland, the Patriots have come a bit more down to Earth. The offense runs through Josh Oduro and it makes sense at the clip that he shoots at. D’Shawn Schwartz and Devon Cooper have been absolute buckets as well.

Players to Watch

Foster Loyer, Davidson (16.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 45.8% FG%)

Hyunjung Lee, Davidson (16.5 PPG, 6 RPG, 48.3% FG%)

Luke Brajkovic, Davidson (14.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 58.7% FG)

Vince Williams Jr., VCU (13.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.1 APG. 47% FG%)

Ace Baldwin Jr., VCU (11.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 42.3% FG)

Daron Holmes, Dayton (11.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 64.2% FG%)

Jalen Adaway, Saint Bonaventure (16 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 48.7% FG)

Jaren Holmes, Saint Bonaventure (13.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 39% FG%)

Kyle Lofton, Saint Bonaventure (13 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 40.4% FG%)

Osun Osunniyi, Saint Bonaventure (11.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 60.5% FG%)

Gibson Jimerson, Saint Louis (16.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 44.9% FG%)

Yuri Collins, Saint Louis (11 PPG, 4 RPG, 8 APG, 45.2% FG%)

Francis Okoro, Saint Louis (10.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 59% FG%)

Tyler Burton, Richmond (16.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 47.6% FG%)

Grant Golden, Richmond (14.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 52.4% FG%)

James Bishop, George Washington (16.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 38.8% FG)

Joe Bamisile, George Washington (16 PPG, 5 RPG, 45.3% FG%)

Darius Quisenberry, Fordham (16.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 37.8% FG%)

Chuba Ohams, Fordham (14.6 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 50.2% FG%)

Josh Oduro, George Mason (18 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 52.8% FG%)

Taylor Funk, Saint Joseph’s (13.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 40.6% FG%)

Jordan Hall, Saint Joseph’s (14.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 39.9% FG%)

Amir Spears, Duquesne (12.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3 APG, 35.9% FG%)


I think that we have a chalk final four and Davidson ends up capping it’s amazing Atlantic 10 season with a win against VCU. The teams split the regular-season series with both games ending in a two-point difference and I expect no different. A close battle.