2011 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Preview and Picks

By Mike Ivcic

Favorite:
1. Xavier (15-1)
The Musketeers struggled in non-conference, but turned it on in A-10 play, dominating what was projected to be a wide-open conference field. Their only loss came at Charlotte, who didn’t qualify for the 12-team postseason tournament, meaning no one in the field can lay claim to having beaten the perennial conference leader all season.

Challengers:
2. Temple (14-2)
3. Richmond (13-3)
For the past few years, Xavier has owned the conference, but Temple has owned the conference tournament. Played just an hour away from Philadelphia, the Owls fan base travels well, and the players seem to rise to the occasion. Meanwhile Richmond needs to reach the semis –and might even need a win there over Temple, depending upon results elsewhere – to feel even somewhat secure with their NCAA resume.

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Dark Horses:
4. Duquesne (10-6)
5. George Washington (10-6)
6. Rhode Island (9-7)
It seems like every year this conference has one team outside the top four that makes a deep run. Rhode Island did three years ago and Duquesne two years ago, so each program has some familiarity with pulling upsets. The Colonials, however, might be best positioned for the move this year, and will be playing with house money against Xavier if they can knock off the Dukes in the quarterfinals.

Longshots:
7. St. Bonaventure (8-8)
8. Massachusetts (7-9)
9. Dayton (7-9)
10. LaSalle (6-10)
11. Saint Louis (6-10)
12. St. Joseph’s (4-12)
Things broke well for the Bonnies, who get a first-round home game with a dangerous LaSalle team for the right to meet Temple in Atlantic City. Dayton struggles mightily on the road, so Xavier will likely avoid a third meeting with the Flyers and draw UMass instead. The real dark horse here is Saint Louis, who won four straight before a season ending loss to Xavier and has the ability to beat both the Rams and Spiders, which would throw a real wrench into the conference’s bid to get three NCAA teams.

Pick: Temple

NCAA Teams: 3 (Xavier, Temple, Richmond)

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