As you well know, I spend a great deal of my time writing, obsessing, podcasting and breaking down the Dayton Flyers, but what about the rest of our fearless league? Fret not, loyal reader of the BBR, your old pal Sully has prepared an abstract of sorts; outlining the extremely questionable, and unmistakably mediocre basketball-doing that has been going on in the Atlantic 10 conference since the beginning of November.
A few important things to note, for you, a Dayton Flyers fan. First of all, when you look at where the teams in the A10 are ranked statistically (KenPom) there is a large gap between UD (9) and the 2nd place team, VCU (44), and a similar gap between the Confederates and the next four teams URI (73), Davidson (77), Richmond (85) and DUQ (86). With that in mind, the expectation in Flyer Land is to win the conference. Plain and simple. Anything less will be a disappointment for a team with this much depth and talent. Additionally, the picture below shows where the A10’s lands in regards to conference strength, comparative to where they were last year. Needless to say it was a successful non-conference for our fair league, with a few of the normal bed-shitters that have become a staple of the conference.
Here’s the A10 standings from a purely W-L perspective on this day of our Lord:
And here’s the standings as they pertain to the KenPom rankings:
But you didn’t come here for standings! You came here to learn the juicy scoop on each of these squads, so keep scrolling. All the pictures used for the teams were generated by our pal @SBUnfurled in this tweet thread here. Give him a follow. I’ll go alphabetically so VCU can be last, as they always are in our hearts.
(If I made an error about your team and you’re gonna get all huffy about it, leave a correction in the comments and I’ll update the article)
Best win: @ Loyola Chicago (not the final four version)
Worst loss: @ Charlotte
What’s up with them? They’re a bunch of chumps! You can mark me down as a person who had Davidson being mediocre from the outset, but with my commitment to fairness comes a longer explanation. Davidson fell directly in the category of “They’re picked to finish second because they brought back everyone” but as is often the case in CBB, that doesn’t necessarily mean success. Yes, Gudmundsson and Grady are back for another year and remain the best guard tandem in the league. However, after that, they got nothin. Their sharp shooter Luke Frampton took a “leave of absence” and then left school entirely, which is a nice way of saying he didn’t make grades. (these darn kids from West Virginia just can’t stay eligible for some reason!) Ki’Shawn Prichett (who would normally be in the starting lineup) has been out all season battling knee problems with no timetable for a return. Last year’s 6th man, Carter Collins, was injured to start the year and has been doing his best to fill in, while newcomer Mike Jones has been the only positive thing to point to after the guard tandem of Grady/JAG. There’s also one more guard with a super Polish name who’s injured and out for the season. Basically, it’s grim. The returning big man Luka Brajkovic has struggled much like he did last year, getting exposed defensively due to his lack of athleticism, but there is simply no one else to fill shoes down low. After an embarrassing loss to Charlotte to begin the year 0-2, the Cats have struggled against every formidable opponent they have played, and are fresh off a sound beating at Vanderbilt (131) where they made the score look a lot closer than the game actually was. Davidson probably has the ability to win on any given night in this league, but they probably won’t more often than not.
Do they matter? Only if they can get a full roster of health. A two-man team can only take you so far in this league.
Can they win the A10? No fucking way.
Best win: Indiana State!
Worst loss: vs. Marshall in Cleveland
What’s up with them? Duquesne and George Mason have been neck-and-neck for the past two months to see who put together a worse non-conference schedule, and GMU barely gained the edge. As you may recall, the Dukes are without a home arena this year due to the construction/renovation of the Palumbo Center, and consequently have had to play games at a D2 school in the Pittsburgh suburbs, along with neutral sites in Cleveland and Akron, to name a few. What’s puzzling is why they refused to schedule anyone with a pulse considering their strongest opponent was Indiana State. The 10-0 start to DUQ’s season ended up being smoke and mirrors as most had predicted, and they will walk into A10 play on a two game losing streak that ended with getting demolished by a very-not-good Marshall team (155). Last year I mentioned that Keith Dambrot’s team was probably a year away from competing in the A10, but I find myself feeling that exact same way this year as well. All of the Dukes statistical successes have been built against teams who stink, so I refuse to take away much from the current resume. If you lift up the hood, DUQ brought back one of the A10s best guards in Sincere Carry and he’s been assisted again by Tavian Dunn-Martin, and efficient big man, Baylee Steele. Like your Flyers, DUQ has been particularly efficient in the paint but, unlike your Flyers, they haven’t shot the three well at all.
Do they matter? The Dukes have depth, but most of it is very young, so while this team will sneak up on a few unsuspecting opponents, the ceiling is very similar to where it was for DUQ last year: the middle of the pack. This team will only go as far as the trio of Carry, Dunn-Martin and Weathers can take them.
Can they win the A10? Saying its highly unlikely would be kind.
Best win: lol, they don’t have one of those (this is the same thing I wrote last year, word for word)
Worst loss: I mean, it doesn’t REALLY matter, there will be many more
What’s up with them? They need to move to another conference. Let’s stop sugarcoating this shit. Men’s basketball is what matters in the Atlantic 10 Conference as a moneymaker and Fordham has been pitiful the entire time they’ve been here. Since 1995, Fordham has been over .500 in conference play exactly twice, and the last time was 2007. Enough is enough, start looking around for a league where you’ll be competitive.
Do they matter? Of course not, it’s Fordham.
Can they – It’s fucking Fordham!!
George Mason (11-2)
Best win: New Mexico State in the Cayman Islands
Worst loss: Since there’s only two, getting absolutely blown out at TCU is what I’ll go with
What’s up with them? They feasted on one of the worst non-conference schedules I’ve ever seen and have proved absolutely nothing (especially after getting the aforementioned ass whooping at TCU on Monday night).I left the jury out on the Patriots until I saw what happened against a formidable Power 5 (TCU) and needless to say…the jury will stay out on this team. When you get blown out by the only two good teams you’ve faced…I’m allowed my right to do that.
Do they matter? George Mason has landed themselves into “doubt success until proven otherwise” territory. The most “meh” of all A10 teams to this juncture – looking neither great nor outwardly terrible.
Can they win the A10? No chance, but they’ll be competitive.
George Washington (6-7)
Best win: Delaware? I guess? Christ.
Worst loss: vs. Morgan State at home. An A10 team should never lose to a MEAC team, ever, for any reason.
What’s up with them? *sighs* this team is dreadful. There’s 13 teams to recap and Dayton plays GW at home on the last day of the season. Please consider what matters and what does not matter in regards to our fandom in the A10 landscape. Knowing about this GW team simply does not matter. They will be battling for the A10 cellar by the aforementioned date at the end of the season. Dayton will HOPEFULLY be somewhere between resting a few guys for the run in March and coming to terms with the emotional reality that the Colonials will take on Obi Toppin for his last game in UD Arena. That is all this GW team will be known for in the minds of Flyers fans, so I must digress. We’ll post a recon when the time comes.
Do they matter? I just talked about it, you know the answer.
Can they win the A10? If Obi Toppin transferred to GW tomorrow and was eligible immediately, they would likely still struggle to even finish top four, so no.
Best win: Wright State (neutral court in Fort Myers, FL)
Worst loss: Penn in the Palestra (Philly)
What’s up with them? There is a recon coming shortly on this very site since Dayton faces off against the Explorers on Thursday night, so I’ll summarize to say LaSalle is a very “middle of the pack” looking team that will struggle to be 500 in the league. Their offense isn’t good at much, they shoot a lot of threes, and they haven’t beaten anyone better than Wright State. Much like St. Joe’s, this team will be forgotten about almost immediately in the minds of Flyers fans since UD will be done with them entirely after game #1. LaSalle struggles to defend the post, fouls a lot, and doesn’t rebound all that well, so the top half of the league shouldn’t struggle much to control the flow of the game and avoid an embarrassing defeat.
Do they matter? They matter in that they can beat anyone on any night in the A10 because their home court is a high school gym above a swimming pool.
Can they win the A10? LaSalle? Win the A10? Of course not. The sooner they move conferences the better.
Rhode Island (8-3)
Best win: vs. Alabama
Worst loss: LSU on a neutal court, but all 3 have been respectable (Maryland, WVU)
What’s up with them? Rhodey has the distinction of playing the very last out of conference game among A10 teams, against Brown, on Thursday night, when the rest of the league will be suiting up against each other. As I mentioned, Rhodey has yet to suffer a bad loss and picked up resume-boosting victories over Providence (81) and Alabama (60), both at home. They are paced by two familiar names, Fatts Russell and Jeff Dowtin, and made steady by A10 mainstay, Cyril Langevine, in the post. Rhodey is as battle-tested and experienced as any team in the league in the starting five, unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot after that. Jacob Toppin has proved to be a fantastic 6th man off the pine, but fellow benchwarmer Dana Tate has decided he’s had enough and recently chose to transfer out of the program. While I think this is a tough Rhodey team who will compete for one of the top four spots, the Ocean State has to be concerned with their depth, especially given the fact that URI loves to run the floor. This isn’t exactly the 2015 Dayton Flyers who brought a walk-on into the mix to have 7 players, but it’s close.
Do they matter? Most certainly, but Russell, Dowtin and Langevine cannot afford to take any nights off, because there aren’t enough bodies to pick up the slack.
Can they win the A10? There is no doubt, but they’ll need to play their best basketball almost every night considering 6 games come against Davidson, Dayton or VCU. The only favor in the schedule is that they get Joe’s twice.
Best win: vs. Wisconsin in Brooklyn
Worst loss: vs. Radford in DC
What’s up with them? It is safe to say Richmond has been the surprise of the league to this point. The entire starting lineup of juniors has finally started to put things together after two forgettable seasons. The scoring is led by Blake Francis and Jacob Gilyard, who have each logged four 20-point games so far this season, and backed up by (equally dangerous) wing Nick Sherod and big-man distributor Grant Golden. Like UD, Richmond can hurt you in a number of ways offensively, and plays with a 9/10-man rotation that’s good at sharing the ball and finding the right shot. If UR is to struggle in A10 play, it will more than likely be because of the defense, not the offense, as the Spiders D ranks in the middle of the pack (nationwide) in every discernible category. While the loss to Radford resembled a “Chris Mooney Special” of losing to an inferior team in the non-con, I’m more inclined to believe the Spiders have turned a corner to relevance and will challenge for a top four spot this season. Doing so would mean keeping their shooting pace intact, which ranks 29th in the nation, as well as their 38% from 3-pt range, which ranks 20th, just a hair behind Gem City .
Do they matter? I think so? But..I mean…Chris Mooney is still there soooooo, idk?
Can they win the A10? Maybe!
St. Bonaventure (8-4)
Best win: vs. Rutgers in Toronto
Worst loss: vs Ohio at home
What’s up with them? Youth has caught up to the Bonnies this season, with only two upperclassman on the entire roster. They ran a trifecta of losing to regional schools, dropping games to Canisius (214), Siena (186) and Buffalo (125). When you start talking about Rutgers being your best win, you know it’s going to be a long season. Luckily the Bonnies get a soft start to the A10 slate, opening up with GW, Mason, Fordham and UMass in a row. If the Bonnies can get back to manufacturing easy buckets and trips to the free throw line, it could be something to build on to spark momentum for conference play. Until then? This young team is going to struggle.
Do they matter? Mark Schmidt will always find ways to squeak out nail-biters in the Reilly Center, so they matter in that aspect.
Can they win the A10? Not this year.
St. Joe’s (3-9)
Best win: As you can see, there’s only three to choose from, but it’s @ UConn
Worst loss: They lost 8 in a row after beating UConn, take your pick
What’s up with them? Man, Joe’s is absolutely terrible, you guys. But in fairness, they were also expected to be this terrible. Way back in May, Matt Gifford at 24/7 sports wrote this breakdown of St. Joe’s roster, and it was at this moment I realized how grim their rebuild would be. The summary is that Joe’s lost two players to graduation and four players to transfer/NBA, which left the cupboard more bare than the day before the welfare check comes. As you may remember, Phil Martelli is gone, and new coach Billy Lange is just out here trying to keep things respectable. Taylor Funk is one of the few familiar names returning, so there’s that, but the Hawks offense is predicated around watching Ryan Daly dribble a ton, and doing a lot of standing around. Personally, I feel bad for Daly, who transferred from Delaware thinking he was playing for an up-and-coming Martelli squad, when in reality he would be shoveling coal this season to keep the lights on. Luckily for Dayton fans, Joe’s will be a blip on the radar. UD travels to Hawk Hill on January 5th to avoid a classic landmine game right away, and then they will not be a concern to our fan base for the rest of the season. Drink up Hawks fans, there’s going to be a lot more losing to come. Any game SJU wins this year will be an overwhelming net negative to the league as a whole.
Do they matter? No…god no.
Can they win the A10? hahaha nah man, nah.
Saint Louis (11-2)
Best win: Kansas State (in Kansas City, neutral)
Worst loss: Actually, none! SLU’s two blemishes are to god’s honest tournament teams, Seton Hall and Auburn.
What’s up with them? The SLU brand of basketball is alive and well. A team predicated on bleeding you out defensively, crashing the glass, and scoring in the paint. SLU has beaten everyone they should have, while losing to, well, two teams they should have. They sport the 63rd best defense in the country, and the fourth best 2pt % defense. Oddly, there is only two teams in the entire country worse at free throw shooting than the Bills, which is fucking pathetic. SLU doesn’t shoot a lot of threes, but frankly doesn’t have to, given that they are getting an offensive rebound on more than a third of their possessions. The usual suspects, Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French, are back to lead the charge, while the contributions from the rest of the lineup change on a night-to-night basis. This SLU team is young and inexperienced, but they’ve figured it out on the fly while relying on the two aforementioned veterans to carry them, that’s enough on most nights in this league.
Do they matter? It would be impossible to justify saying, “no” after SLUs improbable run to the A10 crown last year. Ford’s team is tough again defensively and crashes the glass better than anyone in the league. The free throw shooting and overall offense need work, but they will be a tough out every night in conference play.
Can they win the A10? They can, and it would be slightly less unlikely than what they did last season to walk away with the crown.
I know what you’re thinking.
“This is an “M” Sully, their name is Massachusetts.”
I ask you, have you ever called them, Massachusetts? That’s what I thought. It’s UMass, they fall under “U”.
Best win: vs. Northeastern? There’s not much here.
Worst loss: vs. South Carolina
What’s up with them? They’re really young. The Matt McCall rebuilding effort rages on in Amherst, and sadly, his youthful Minutemen look to be at least another year away. Tre Mitchell has been arguably the A10s best freshman to this point, and Carl Pierre is still keeping it wet from deep, but the bench sucks and they’re letting teams control the glass at an alarming clip. UMass doesn’t have a single loss to a team above 102 in KenPom, which is something, but they also haven’t beaten any team ranked higher than 142. They’ll be a thorn to some teams (like Dayton, probably) but I can’t see how this team finishes in the top half of the league, there’s just not enough here on paper.
Do they matter? Nope.
Can they win the A10? Nope.
WE MADE IT TO THE END!
Virginia Confederate University Green Devils (10-3)
Best win: LSU at home
Worst loss: vs. Tennessee in something called the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida
What’s up with them? The HAVOC defense is back and fouling more than ever! The Rams/Green Devils have been propelled by the 32nd ranked defense in the country, which is forcing the 2nd most turnovers in D1, along with leading the country in steal percentage. VCU picked up a marquee win at home in November against LSU, which has since slipped back (due to LSU losses) to the conference’s second-best victory behind Dayton’s neutral court demolishing of Saint Mary’s. Much like UD, after the LSU win there isn’t much to point to on the resume validating legitimacy, but you can only beat who’s in front of you, and they’ve done that much. VCU has one of the most experienced lineups in the country, so the names will all be the same, and they will matchup particularly well with Dayton due to the size and athleticism of the starting five. If opponents are able to limit their own turnovers, and gain the edge on the glass…VCU is very beatable this season.
Do they matter? Obviously. The VCU-Dayton tilts will be the most highly anticipated games of the A10 season, and I doubt they will disappoint. They will rarely lose at home, won’t beat themselves and rely on the defense to keep them in it every night.
Can they win the A10? Yes, of course, of course they can. You know this, I know this. Last year they proved us all wrong and all that. They could win it again this year.
I can’t believe you read this whole article. What’s the matter with you? The A10 season opens up Thursday night with FIVE matchups to kickstart us into conference play. We’ll be here to educate you along the way.
Wear red, be LOWD, this will be the longest article I post on the BBR this season, and every season, without question.
The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.