U. Dayton BasketballSully’s Annual Guide to the Atlantic 10 Tournament

The A10 Tournament is here. Have you done your homework?
Sully5 months ago218 min

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 since conference play started in January.

First things first, here’s the bracket we will be speaking about on this here blog post:

 

Here’s how the A10 finished up, standings-wise, courtesy of KenPom:

 

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)

#7 Davidson 16-14 (10-8)

What’s up with them? Davidson has been absolutely dreadful away from their home floor, going 2-7 on the road in conference play, with one of those wins coming against Fordham. It’s safe to say things never quite clicked for the Wildcats this year. After the star tandem of Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson (who’s finally graduating!) there wasn’t much else in the cupboard. The offense is still extremely effective, ranking in the top 50 in adjusted efficiency, EFG %, 3pt % and their frequency of getting to the line while remaining steadfast in holding onto the ball and limiting turnovers. The defense is another story. Davidson consistently got gashed on the interior in most games this year and struggled to make opponents uncomfortable on the offensive side of the ball. Their only hope of winning in Brooklyn will be to have the guards get hot and win a few track meets by scoring 80. I don’t like their odds of making that happen.

Prediction: They beat LaSalle on Thursday and lose to Richmond for a third time on Friday

Can they win it all? I do not believe so. Grady and JAG can only carry this team so far.

 

#1 The University of Dayton Flyers 

What’s up with them? If you’re reading this blog, you probably know. Dayton is unarguably one of the best teams in the country and just absolutely laid waste to the entire A10 conference for 18 straight games over 2-ish months. Once you get away from their National Player of the Year Candidate in Obi Toppin and the sure hands of point guard Jalen Crutcher, the Flyers are deep, experienced and talented. UD has not dropped a game in regulation the entire year and their last loss came on December 21st to a tournament-bound Colorado team. While the UD resume is built mostly on hollow wins and a loss to Kansas, you can only beat who’s in front of you, and that’s precisely what the Flyers have done. Only Saint Louis was really able to challenge the conference’s top dog during A10 play, and for my money is the only team with a fighter’s chance to bring down the Death Star in Brooklyn. History says Dayton will drop a bed-shitter because its the conference tournament, but the latest edition of UD hasn’t cared much for historical narratives either. They will be the heavy favorites to raise the hardware on Sunday.

Prediction: I will never predict the University of Dayton wins the conference tournament and won’t believe it’s possible until the moment I see it with my very eyes.

Can they win it all? For christ sake, they better. I’m sick of losing in this fucking thing. If UD can’t win it this year, I’ll make my peace with it never happening.

 

#6 Duquesne 21-9 (11-7)

What’s up with them? After coming off a season where it felt like Duquesne was a year away from actually competing for an A10 crown, it seems as though the Dukes have found themselves right back in the same predicament this time around. After jumping out to a 5-0 start, the Dukes would go 6-7 the rest of the way including two drubbings of the Billikens and a win at the Siegel Center in Richmond where everyone besides VCU seems to be collecting wins these days. DUQ doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but isn’t inept in any one area either. The phrase “a few sandwiches short of a picnic” comes to mind when aptly describing this team. Weathers and Hughes are the main cogs in the DUQ scheme, while Sincere Carry and Tavian Dunn-Martin are just effective enough to keep you honest on the perimeter. They will be a very tough out in Brooklyn.

Prediction: They slip past URI and lose on Saturday.

Can they win it all? Saying its unlikely would be kind.

 

#14 Fordham (their record doesn’t matter, let’s be honest) 

Fordham is right back where they’re comfortable: the cold, dark basement.

 

Get out of the A10. Everyone has had enough.

 

#12 George Mason 16-15 (5-13) 

What’s up with them? They feasted on one of the worst non-conference schedules I’ve ever seen and it was all downhill from there. GMU wasn’t even able to put together a winning streak in conference play and limped to a 5-13 finish that will surely have Dave Paulsen on the hot seat next year. The Mason program has been wholly underwhelming during their tenure in the A10, and this season was no different. Their die-hard fans deserve better than the product they’ve received over the last 5 years.

Prediction: The Patriots are just going to Brooklyn to have fun, guys.

Can they w  – hahahahaha no no no. Absolutely not.

 

#11 George Washington 12-20 (6-12)

What’s up with them? Instead of writing something new, here is what I wrote about the Colonials at the beginning of January….

*sighs* this team is dreadful. There’s 14 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. 

…being right all the time gets tiring.

Prediction: You’ll forget they even participated in this tournament by Saturday. {UPDATE: They lost to Fordham for the THIRD time!!!}

 

#10 LaSalle 15-15 (6-12) 

What’s up with them? With Dayton’s dismantling of GW last weekend, LaSalle was mercifully able to escape the Wednesday afternoon pillow fights. After splitting a pair with UD and Fordham to begin A10 play, the wheels, engine and muffler came off of LaSalle and they lost the next 7 games in a row to solidify themselves in the bottom of the league. Of their six wins, only one (Bonnies) came against a team ahead of them in the standings. LaSalle has the A10 to thank for #10 seed, seeing how they were able to feast on St. Joe’s and Fordham twice each.

Prediction: Davidson will make short work of them on Thursday evening.

Can they win it all? I guess I don’t have to keep asking this question for every team, huh?

 

#3 Rhode Island 21-9 (13-5) 

What’s up with them? URI has found themselves on the wrong side of the bubble after going 3-4 to close conference play (two of the losses being to UD). Had the Rhody Rams not lost to Brown before A10 play started, it stands to reason their situation would be different, but alas, here we are. Like the next team I am going to profile, Rhode Island won’t be able to get into the NCAA Tournament without a trip to the final on Sunday, and even that might not be enough. Shooting woes have plagued the Rams all year, and if they have any shot of winning in Brooklyn, that trend will need to be reversed. If you’re putting bets on URI, it will be based on the notion that they will catch fire under truly desperate times. Good news for Flyers fans? Dowtin and Langevine are finally graduating, so there’s that.

Prediction:  For some reason I have the feeling DUQ is going to come out hungry for this tournament and get past URI to play in the semis on Saturday. You heard it here first.

Can they win it all? It’s possible, but for my money they probably need someone to upset Dayton before the final, URI proved they just do not have the horses to hang with the Flyers. Couple that upset with Fatts Russell playing the role of tournament MVP, and that’s the only way I see URI raising the hardware on Sunday afternoon.

 

#2 Richmond 24-7 (14-4) 

What’s up with them? As it was in early January, Richmond has been the surprise of the A10 season and put together a damn fine season to get the #2 spot. The starting lineup of all Juniors features an extremely balanced attack, capable of beating you in a multitude of ways. The Spiders are ranked 54th in offensive efficiency and 53rd in defense, illustrating just how committed they are to the aforementioned balance. After starting 5-3 with losses to UD, SLU and VCU, Richmond has been winners of 9 of their last 10, with the only loss coming at the Reilly Center to the Bonnies. All five starters are effectively playing their role within Mooney’s system, and in any other year, he probably wins Coach of the Year for taking a 20-loss team and turning them into a 24-win team on the doorstep of an NCAA at-large bid. The bad news for UR? The neutral court loss to Radford in December is sticking to their resume like a cheap burger to your ribs. Without that bed shitter, Richmond would be playing for seeding. As it stands? The Spiders MUST play on Sunday to hear their name called later that evening. A premature exit will find them packing bags for the NIT. If the starters continue to balance their contributions and Nick Sherod stays hot from deep, I see no reason why we can’t have a UD-Richmond final for all the marbles.

Prediction: Richmond has not lost to any A10 team on their side of the bracket, so they give me no reason to believe they won’t be playing in the final on Sunday.

Can they win it all? Maybe!

 

#5 St. Bonaventure 19-12 (11-7) 

What’s up with them? The Bonnies feasted on the conference’s worst schedule to get to 11 wins, notching two wins each over GMU, Joe’s, GW, and Fordham. Against the rest of the conference Mark Schmidt’s team went 3-7, with the only impressive win coming at home against #2 Richmond. A10 First-Teamer Kyle Lofton carries the load for Bona, who showcases the youngest lineup in the league with only two upperclassmen on the entire roster. Osun Osunniyi is healthy after missing 10-ish games with injuries, which means Bonaventure is capable of sneaking up on someone decent, in theory, however it looks like they will get SLU on Friday, who just trounced them by 23 in the final game of the season last Saturday. If they make no noise in Brooklyn this time around, rest assured, they’re really young, and will be back next year as a front runner in the conference.

Prediction: They get handled by SLU again on Friday and we get Arch Baron Cup #3 on Saturday afternoon.

Can they win it all? It would likely mean sneaking past UD, which I do not think is bloody likely.

 

#13 St. Joe’s 6-25 (2-16) 

What’s up with them?  Joe’s was as bad as everyone expected. Rebuilding a program is tough, you guys.

There’s no need to go any further: Ryan Daly gets buckets, and they lost in the Wednesday pillow fights.

 

#4 Saint Louis 23-8 (12-6)

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. As it has been all year, SLU still remains absolutely, positively, dead last in the entire nation in FT % at 57.1%, a truly dreadful number. However, they rank top 50 in the nation in overall defensive efficiency, opponent field goal % and offensive rebounding frequency. When you’re playing the Bills you can expect they won’t take a lot of threes, will pack it in defensively and give you a physical brand of basketball. After losing to UMass in Amherst on February 18th, they have rattled off 5 wins in a row and (aside from UD) will be the hottest team headed into Brooklyn. If this team had figured out how to shoot free throws at any point in the season, I remain steadfast in my belief that they would be ranked in the top 25 right now. As it stands? They barely snuck into the top 4 of a mediocre Atlantic 10. Take the Bills seriously, Flyers fans, you know they’re a match-up nightmare for UD.

Prediction: They give UD all they can handle on Saturday, but bow out a few buckets short of a victory like the first two times around.

Can they win it all? Definitely. Hell, they did it last year, right?

 

#8 UMass 14-17 (8-10) 

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”.

What’s up with them? They’re still really young. After being left for dead with a 7-12 record including a 1-5 start to A10 play, the Minutemen went 7-5 the rest of the way, notching wins at home against SLU and VCU to end up in the 8th spot. Freshman of the Year, Tre Mitchell, has turned into a full blown problem for opponents, scoring at least 12 points in every single conference game and tallying 24 or more points seven different times, including a 34-point explosion against URI on the final night of the season. Carl Pierre is still chucking threes whenever he gets the chance (34%) and freshman Sean East has also been a bright spot in the score sheet alongside Mitchell. They might be young, but there’s finally reason for optimism in Amherst, as third year coach Matt McCall seemingly has turned a corner and has these boys believing they’re building something substantial to compete in the conference for years to come.

Prediction:  They slip past VCU on Thursday and receive both hands from the Flyers on Friday afternoon.

Can they win it all? No.

WE MADE IT TO THE END!

#9 Virginia Confederate University 18-13 (8-10)

What’s up with them? They stink and are coming apart at the seams! After beating Davidson to improve to 17-6 (7-3) the Richmond Rams have won ONE GAME since then, losing 7 out of 8 to close the season. Lead guard Marcus Evans continues to deal with injuries, as he has most of his career, and was limited or did not play at all in the last seven games. Santos-Silva is still a load to deal with in the post, and freshman Bones Hyland has been a welcome surprise on a team that truly sucks at scoring baskets. VCU right now resembles an NBA team that’s playing for a high draft pick, saving their laziness and most uninspired basketball for March. Senior De’Riante Jenkins has decided he’s had enough of this season and cited a “personal health issue” so I’m not even sure who will be taking the floor for the Rams on Thursday afternoon, but rest assured, it won’t be great.

Prediction: They go quietly into that goodnight.

Can they win it all? hahahahaha NO, man!

 

I can’t believe you read this whole article. What’s the matter with you? The A10 tournament gets going with the pillow fights on Wednesday afternoon and concludes a few hours before the festivities of Selection Sunday. If you spot the beanie, say hey, I’ll be around.

Wear red, be LOWD all week.

Sully

The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.

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