As was highlighted by our own Sam Federman earlier this season, the Atlantic-10 has been something of a big, beautiful mess (and on Twitter with #zerobidleague) and while the conference most likely won’t be its usual three to four bid self, there’s still some great competition to be had in Brooklyn.
Leading the way will of course be VCU and Dayton as the first and second seeds respectively, but they’ll have to battle with the parity of the A-10 as just two games at most separate the seventh through 13th seeded programs in the bracket.
Additionally, with almost every team in this season’s rendition of the conference championship posting double-digit wins except for Rhode Island, the road to the final will be anything but an easy trip.
Maybe we’ll even see another six seeded program win the whole thing like we saw from Richmond just a year ago.
Note: All times listed are Eastern.
First Round (Tuesday, March 7), ESPN+
Game 1: No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 13 UMass, 11:30 a.m.
Game 2: No. 10 Saint Joseph’s vs. No. 15 Loyola Chicago, 2 p.m.
Game 3: No. 11 La Salle vs. No. 14 Rhode Island, 4:30 p.m.
Second Round (Wednesday, March 8), USA Network
Game 4: No. 8 Davidson vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure, 11:30 a.m.
Game 5: No. 5 George Mason vs. Game 1 Winner, 2 p.m.
Game 6: No. 7 George Washington vs. Game 2 Winner, 5 p.m.
Game 7: No. 6 Duquesne vs. Game 3 Winner, 7:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals (Thursday, March 9), USA Network
Game 8: No. 1 VCU vs. Game 4 Winner, 11:30 a.m.
Game 9: No. 4 Saint Louis vs. Game 5 Winner, 2 p.m.
Game 10: No. 2 Dayton vs. Game 6 Winner, 5 p.m.
Game 11: No. 3 Fordham vs. Game 7 Winner, 7:30 p.m.
Semifinals (Saturday, March 11), CBS Sports Network
Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. Game 9 Winner, 1 p.m.
Game 13: Game 10 Winner vs. Game 11 Winner, 3:30 p.m.
Final (Sunday, March 12), CBS
Game 14: Game 12 Winner vs. Game 13 Winner, 1 p.m.
VCU (24-7, 15-3): Despite being picked third in the conference’s preseason poll, the Rams finished tied with Fordham for the A-10’s best overall record and with the most wins in conference play.
While Mike Rhoades’ squad has battled injuries throughout the year, they’ve still remained highly competitive pushing upsets over Pitt, Vanderbilt, and Radford in the non-conference.
Despite this, the Rams have showed some weakness during conference play picking up losses against some of the top seeds including an opening loss to Duquesne, a defeat at the Siegel Center to the Bonnies, and in a tightly contested battle with Dayton.
VCU has what it takes to win a championship this season but will they be able to get it done against some stiff competition in the A-10?
Dayton (20-11, 12-6): Behind a couple of potential NBA caliber talents in DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara, the Flyers can roll over anybody in the conference but have shown a ton of inconsistency with losses to VCU, GW, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and George Mason.
They’re certainly not arriving in Brooklyn with the most momentum but with two extra days to prepare as the second seed, it could be a short ride to the Championship round for Anthony Grant’s crew if they can find that elusive consistency on both ends of the floor.
Fordham (24-7, 12-6): Having the program’s best season since 1970-71, the Rams will be essentially on home court in Brooklyn which could prove a real issue for their competitors behind the play of media all-conference selections Darius Quisenberry and Khalid Moore.
I think, unlike Dayton, Fordham will have a ton of momentum and support behind them following this historic season at Rose Hill and it ultimately could will Keith Urgo’s squad to the A-10 finals.
Saint Louis (20-11, 12-6): Travis Ford’s Billikens are always a top program in the A-10 and this season is no different with Saint Louis garnering the fourth seed. While this isn’t the best roster Ford’s seen during his tenure, Yuri Collins is an issue as the conference’s leader in assists, sophomore Gibson Jimerson has been stellar averaging 14 points per game, and veteran Javonte Perkins has continued finding success in his senior year.
George Mason (19-12, 11-7): The Patriots have a loaded roster of veteran seniors all eager for their last shot at a conference title with the push being led by Josh Oduro managing a team leading 15.6 PPG and eight boards. Additionally, DeVon Cooper, Victor Bailey, and Davonte Gaines will all need to be productive if George Mason wants to make a run to the Championship.
Duquesne (20-11, 10-8): The Dukes have a roster that can defensively smother and outscore anybody in the conference on a good day, but similar to a lot of team’s they’ve shown inconsistency featuring losses to Richmond, St. Bonaventure, UMass, and two to Fordham. Transfer Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark have been electic this season and could very well carry Duquesne to a few wins in Brooklyn as this year’s sixth seed.
Players to Watch
Brandon Johns, VCU (11.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 51.3% FG%)
Ace Baldwin, VCU (12.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 2.5 STLPG)
DaRon Holmes II, Dayton (18 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 59.2% FG%)
Toumani Camara, Dayton (13.6 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 54.3% FG%)
Darius Quisenberry, Fordham (17 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG)
Khalid Moore, Fordham (15.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 48.5% FG%)
Gibson Jimerson, Saint Louis (14 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 39.7% 3P%)
Yuri Collins, Saint Louis (11.3 PPG, 10.1 APG, 43.8% FG%)
Javonte Perkins, Saint Louis (11.1 PPG, 2 RPG, 41.7% FG%)
Josh Oduro, George Mason (15.6 PPG, 8 RPG, 55.4% FG%)
Victor Bailey, George Mason (11.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 47% 3P%)
Ronald Polite, George Mason (11.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.1 APG)
Dae Dae Grant, Duquesne (15.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 40.1 % 3P%)
Jimmy Clark, Duquesne (11.7 PPG, 4 RPG, 43% FG%)
James Bishop IV, George Washington (21.5 PPG, 5.1 APG, 43% FG%)
Brendan Adams, George Washington (17.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 47.7% FG%)
Max Edwards, George Washington (10.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 43.7% FG%)
Foster Loyer, Davidson (16.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG)
Sam Mennenga, Davidson (15.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 51.5% FG%)
Daryl Banks, St. Bonaventure (15.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 STLPG)
Chad Venning, St. Bonaventure (12.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 57.7% FG%)
Kyrell Luc, St. Bonaventure (11.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.3 APG)
Erik Reynolds II, Saint Joseph’s (19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 38.8% 3P%)
Cameron Brown, Saint Joseph’s (13.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 STLPG)
Lynn Greer, Saint Joseph’s (12.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 4 APG)
Khalil Brantley, La Salle (14 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4 APG)
Josh Nickelberry, La Salle (11.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 40.3% 3P%)
Tyler Burton, Richmond (18.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 44.8% FG%)
Matt Cross, UMass (12.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.5 STLPG)
RJ Luis, UMass (11.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 46.1% FG%)
Ishmael Leggett, Rhode Island (16.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.4 APG)
Jalen Carey, Rhode Island (10 PPG, 5 RPG, 40.5% FG%)
Philip Alston, Loyola Chicago (14.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 47.3% FG%)
Braden Norris, Loyola Chicago (10.9 PPG, 3.9 APG, 41.7% FG%)
The Dayton Flyers are too talented to disappoint in Brooklyn and I think, ultimately, they’ll find that consistency and right the ship to win the A-10 championship crown. However, GW and James Bishop will give the Flyers some trouble on Day 2 before Fordham takes them to the wire in the semifinals. Anthony Grant and Co. will face VCU in the finals where they’ll pull off the upset, similar to how they did during the regular season.