I said earlier in the week, and I don’t think anything will change between now and Selection Sunday to alter my opinion, that I can’t envision a scenario where 6 A10 teams get into the NCAA Tournament. Call it politics, favoritism, anti mid-major sentiment, call it whatever you want, I just don’t see it happening. There will be a conference tournament upset or two, a few major conference teams that make a late run, etc., that will make six league bids untenable.
Which isn’t to say there won’t be a half-dozen conference teams that deserve invites when it’s all said and done, you can certainly make a compelling argument that the league deserves that many bids. However, a lot would have to go according to plan for that inevitability to play out.
Brian Kollars, in his DDN article yesterday, hits the nail on the head:[quote_box_center]Can you see six teams from the Atlantic 10 getting invites to the NCAA tournament? I can’t, which means UD’s chances of making the cut are about as good as Caddyshack winning the Oscar for Best Picture. The Flyers, who got a clutch win Saturday against UMass, need to finish the regular season with a win at Saint Louis and a knockout of Richmond at home.[/quote_box_center]
With Saint Louis, UMass and VCU mortal locks to make the tournament, that leaves two possible bids from the Atlantic Ten. Unless St. Joseph’s, who earned a clean sweep against Dayton, completely falters down the stretch (which would mean losses at George Washington, at home against La Salle and in the quarterfinals of the A10 tournament) there isn’t a persuasive case to be made for the Flyers inclusion over the Hawks. Martelli’s club played a tougher out-of-conference schedule and have managed to avoid a single bad loss. The Hawks clearly have a stronger resume than UD, deal with it.
Which makes George Washington the team Flyer fans should be paying close attention to during the next two weeks. The Colonials, who seem safely in the field at the moment, have just a one game lead over Dayton in the Atlantic Ten. GW faces St. Joe’s at home on Wednesday before closing out their regular season at home against Fordham on Saturday.
A loss against SJU and a win vs. Fordham would result in a 22-8 overall record, 10-6 in league play. The Flyers could finish 22-9, also 10-6 in conference play, with a clean sweep this week. Additionally, UD would win the tie-breaker over George Washington based on their win over the Colonials back on February 1st — giving Gem City possession of fifth place and a likely tuneup with Fordham in the first round of the Atlantic Ten tournament.
George Washington and Dayton have very similar profiles. The Colonials currently have nine top 100 wins, UD has eight. GW has managed not to incur any bad losses, while the Flyers have three defeats which will likely cause the committee consternation. Although on paper the Flyers have played a tougher schedule than GW, both in conference play and out-of-conference, the disparity is rather marginal.
Give George Washington credit, they took down Creighton early in the season and have done nothing to suggest that victory was a fluke. Mike Lonergan’s team hasn’t produced a spectacular resume, they simply did everything they needed to do. The Colonials protected their home floor and didn’t suffer any dubious defeats. The Flyers, unfortunately, cannot say the same.
Dayton’s performance against Saint Louis this week could go a long way in edging UD’s tournament resume slightly ahead of GW’s. It would give the Flyers a win over (a) a ranked opponent, (b) a team with a strong RPI profile and (c) a team that will hear its’ name announced on Selection Sunday.
If you put enough faith in the committee to hand out six bids to the Atlantic Ten, then ignore this post altogether. You believe that the Flyers’ fate is solely in their own hands, and they will be justly rewarded for finishing 5th or 6th in the conference and winning a game or two in the league tournament. However, if you are like me, and view the selection process with a bit of skepticism, then I suggest checking in on GW/St. Joe’s this Wednesday night — it may be as important as the Flyers matchup with Saint Louis.