Setting Up Your A10 Week…
VCU again has the midweek night off. So again, we will take the opportunity to set the scene around the Atlantic 10 for you. Root as you wish.
Interestingly, there's only three midweek conference games, and St. Louis is the only team in the top seven to play a conference game. (Temple and Xavier scheduled nonconference games in their slot.)
At the top of the league we have six teams battling for one of the top four seeds and a bye in the first round of the A-10 tournament. Barring a total collapse, which we all know will not occur, St. Louis has wrapped up a top four spot. Similarly from the other side, Xavier is in a tough spot.
The Musketeers are 8-5 and finish with a gauntlet. If they earn a bye, they've <John Houseman Voice> eaahhhhrrnnned it.
That leaves four teams for three spots. VCU controls its own destiny. Any two victories gets the job done, and a win over Temple absolutely locks up a top four seed. (Side note: I want to win all three. The Temple note is a point of fact. Don't get dramatic on me.)
Interesting final day of the regular season: LaSalle at St. Louis, VCU at Temple, and Xavier at Butler. The current top six all play each other. Spots #6 through #12, it seems, are wide open. UMass could be a very good #6, or the most dangerous #12 imaginable.
St. Louis (10-2): host St. Joseph's, at GW. The Billikens have a prime opportunity to wrap up the regular season title with two victories this week. St. Joe's has two road victories all season–Fordham and Duquesne (3-23 combined record). Mike Lonergan's Foggy Bottom Boys have lost three of four and may have hit their wall. With the way St. Louis is playing, a 2-0 week is expected.
VCU (10-3): OFF, host Butler. The off game comes at an ideal time for the Rams. Roadies to St. Louis and Xavier were taxing, but mentally stimulating. VCU has the opportunity to essentially lock up a top four seed with a victory over the Bulldogs.
Butler (9-4): OFF, at VCU. The Men of Stevens are in an interesting spot. Win and Butler feels good about the top four. Lose, and it gets mucky. Butler owns the tiebreaker against Temple, but a loss to VCU means the Rams, St. Louis, and LaSalle all own the tiebreaker against them. The Bulldogs finish the season with UMass and Xavier.
LaSalle (9-4): OFF, host Duquesne. The Explorers have to get while the getting's good. They finish the season with a roadie to St. Louis, and it may mean something if they slip up this week, or next week against GW. LaSalle's schedule-heft came earlier in the season–I like their chances for a top four spot.
Temple (8-5): host Detroit/noncon, host Rhode Island. The Owls, left for dead most of the season, have a very good opportunity to entertain VCU on the season's final day with just five conference losses. After Rhody there's Fordham, meaning there's a likely chance Temple hosts VCU winners of seven straight conference games.
Xavier (8-5): host Memphis/noncon, host UMass. We wish Chris Mack luck. After VCU and UMass, the Muskies finish up with St. Louis and Butler. Because of that, the UMass game may be for a seed line. I can tell you this: Xavier/UMass as the #6/#7 teams? Hoo-baby, Brooklyn will be fun.
UMass (7-6): OFF, at Xavier. The Minutemen rallied from a three-game losing streak to drop Dayton and still have as much raw talent as anyone in the conference. As just written, the Xavier game is likely for a seed line. With Butler and Rhody to finish the season a road win in Cintas may be the difference in 7-9 and 9-7.
Charlotte (6-6): host Dayton, at St. Bonaventure. The Niners are the official midleague wildcard. They've won and lost with no discernable pattern. With Bona and St. Joe's left on the docket, who knows?
Richmond (6-6): host GW, at Dayton. The game at Dayton on Saturday is important. You have to figure the Spiders get GW at home and Duquesne in the Robins Center to finish the year. You also have to figure VCU will exact revenge. A roadie at Dayton gets them to 9-7.
St. Joseph's (6-6): at St. Louis, host Fordham. The Hawks are screaming for two home wins and two road losses. After this week they travel to Charlotte and host Rhody. Why do I feel like we could have a five-way tie at 8-8?
GW (6-6): at Richmond, host St. Louis. A very tough finishing kick. With LaSalle and Dayton to finish the regular season there's a real possibility for a long losing streak. Don't be fooled. Lonergan will get them going. Remember, this bunch was preseason #13.
St. Bonaventure (6-7): OFF, host Charlotte. Pay attention to the Charlotte game. Dayton follows and then Fordham. Bona beats Charlotte and they almost certainly head to Brooklyn. Obviously a win over Dayton ends all doubt.
Dayton (4-8): at Charlotte, host Richmond. All four teams left on Dayton's schedule, today, have exactly six wins. The implication is clear: get busy livin', or get busy dyin'.
Rhode Island (3-10): OFF, at Temple. Temple, St. Joseph's, UMass. Spoiler. Spoiler. Spoiler.
Fordham (2-11): OFF, at St. Joseph's. Progress check for a young Rams team. Mandell Thomas looks like a keeper.
Duquesne (1-12): OFF, at LaSalle. It's been as massive a clean up job for Jim Ferry as expected.