2010 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Preview and Picks

NCAA Basketball Betting

By Mike Ivcic

It’s been called the best “upper-mid-major” conference in the country, but as the final week of games played out in the Atlantic 10, a conference that was once expected to get anywhere from four to possibly even seven bids is now starting at the distinct possibility of sending only three to the NCAA tournament. Xavier, Temple, and Richmond are all locks, but if the conference wants to send a fourth, they might need to see some deep runs from the likes of Rhode Island and Dayton, two teams that stumbled big time down the stretch.

One side note to this year’s A-10 tournament – no longer will 12 teams travel to Atlantic City. Instead, the first round of games will occur on campus sites on Tuesday, with teams 1-4 still earning bids to the quarterfinals and teams 5-12 having to play Tuesday for the final four berths to Atlantic City. Also, as opposed to having a Saturday championship game, the tournament will now have its finale on Sunday, which will be televised on CBS at 1:00 p.m.

Favorite
1. Temple (26-5, 14-2)
They’re the defending champs and they, along with St. Joe’s (who likely won’t even make it to the quarterfinal round), are the closest in proximity to the tournament site, meaning they will likely have a strong fan base for support. Add to that, they’re also a pretty good basketball team, will avoid the next two best teams until the finals, and have already beaten Xavier once, so the Owls seem to be one notch ahead of the other 11 teams competing for the title.

Contenders
2. Xavier (23-7, 14-2)
3. Richmond (24-7, 13-3)
Originally I had this as a group of six, but after further consideration there’s a clear line between these two and the following four. Xavier has become this conference’s model program, and Jordan Crawford might be the best player in the A-10, while Richmond has revitalized its program to the point that they’re a lock to return to the NCAA’s for the first time since the A-10 sent a record four teams to the dance in 2004.

Underdogs
4. Saint Louis (20-10, 11-5)
5. Rhode Island (21-8, 9-7)
6. Charlotte (19-11, 9-7)
7. Dayton (19-11, 8-8)
It’s unlikely more than one team from this group will make the NCAA tournament, and the inside track right now has to go to Rhode Island. The Rams have the best computer profile of the group, and have wins over both Dayton and Charlotte. Despite beating Rhode Island, Richmond, and Dayton twice, Saint Louis is still in a world of hurt because of weak non-conference losses to Bowling Green, Iowa State, and Missouri State, and will likely face an elimination game with URI in the quarterfinals. Charlotte and Dayton both stumbled big time down the stretch (the 49’ers have lost 6 of 7, the Flyers 5 of 7), and each will likely have to win the conference title to earn a berth in the NCAA’s.

Longshots
8. St. Bonaventure
9. Duquesne
10. George Washington
11. Massachusetts
12. St. Joseph’s
Either Bonaventure or Duquesne will make it to Atlantic City, and that will likely be it out of this group. The new format puts the possibility for upsets in the first round at extremely high odds, and since both Rhode Island and Dayton are difficult to beat at home, the best chance for that upset probably lies with UMass, fresh off their win over the Rams on Saturday, to knock off Charlotte in North Carolina. Like the Big East, however, if any of these teams are still playing on Saturday, it would be a major surprise to an already upside down conference.

Prediction
St. Bonaventure over Duquesne
Dayton over George Washington
Charlotte over Massachusetts
Rhode Island over St. Joseph’s

Temple over St. Bonaventure
Xavier over Dayton
Richmond over Charlotte
Rhode Island over Saint Louis

Temple over Rhode Island
Xavier over Richmond

Temple over Richmond

NCAA Tournament Teams
Temple, Xavier, Richmond, Rhode Island

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Final Regular Season Standings

Temple

14-2

26-5

Xavier

14-2

23-7

Richmond

13-3

24-7

Saint Louis

11-5

20-10

Rhode Island

9-7

21-8

Charlotte

9-7

19-11

Dayton

8-8

19-11

Duquesne

7-9

16-14

St. Bonaventure

7-9

14-15

George Washington

6-10

16-13

Massachusetts 5-11 11-19
Saint Joseph’s 5-11 11-19
La Salle 4-12 12-18
Fordham 0-16 2-26

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