A-10 snapshot and a look at VCU’s remaining path [INSIDER]

8-0. It’s VCU best Atlantic 10 start and their first 8-0 conference start since the 2007 season. The Rams won both the CAA regular season and tournament titles that year thanks to a backcourt consisting of names like Walker, Pellot-Rosa, Shuler and a breakout sophomore named Maynor.

VCU cut down both the regular season and conference tournament nets in 2007, the last season in which VCU won both conference titles, doing so however as a Colonial Athletic Association member.
VCU cut down both the regular season and conference tournament nets in 2007, the last season in which VCU won both conference titles, doing so however as a Colonial Athletic Association member.

The black and gold finished 16-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association that season, running their conference record to 11-0 before falling at top-100 Hofstra, then later dropping a game at No.63 Old Dominion.

The CAA finished that season with five top-100 teams.

This year’s Atlantic 10, VCU’s new conference, boasts seven of those including three top-50s. Needless to say, it will be a much more difficult road for VCU to claim their first regular season crown since leaving the CAA, but after an undefeated start that has included two top-100 roads wins, a home win over a top-100 St. Bonaventure team and a Friday night road win over current No.120 and last season’s regular season champ, Davidson, the Rams certainly appear up to the challenge.

A LOOK AT THE A-10 CONTENDERS

VCU (8-0)
Good wins: at Saint Joseph’s, at Richmond, v Duquesne, v St. Bonaventure, at Davidson
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: GW, Dayton
Remaining top-100 home games: GW, Rhode Island, Richmond
Remaining top-150 games: v Davidson
Kenpom predicted finish: 16-2

Dayton (8-1)
Good wins: at Duquesne, v Davidson, v GW, at St. Bonaventure
Bad losses: at La Salle
Remaining top-100 road games: Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Richmond
Remaining top-100 home games: St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island
Remaining top-150 games: v Duquesne
Kenpom predicted finish: 14-4

Saint Joseph’s (7-1)
Good wins: at Richmond, v Rhode Island, at Rhode Island
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: GW, St. Bonaventure
Remaining top-100 home games: St. Bonaventure, Dayton
Remaining top-150 games: at Davidson, v Duquesne
Kenpom predicted finish: 14-4

St. Bonaventure (5-3)
Good wins: v Davidson, v Rhode Island, v Richmond
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: Saint Joseph’s, Dayton
Remaining top-100 home games: GW, Saint Joseph’s
Remaining top-150 games: v Duquesne
Kenpom predicted finish: 11-7

George Washington (5-3)
Good wins: v Duquesne, v Rhode Island
Bad losses: at Saint Louis
Remaining top-100 road games: VCU, St. Bonaventure, Richmond
Remaining top-100 home games: Saint Joseph’s, VCU
Remaining top-150 games: v Davidson, at Duquesne, v Davidson
Kenpom predicted finish: 10-8

Duquesne (5-4)
Good wins: v St. Bonaventure
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s
Remaining top-100 home games: GW, Richmond
Remaining top-150 games: v Davidson
Kenpom predicted finish: 9-9

Rhode Island (4-4)
Good wins: v Richmond
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: VCU, Dayton
Remaining top-100 home games: Dayton
Remaining top-150 games: v Duquesne, at Davidson
Kenpom predicted finish: 10-8

Davidson (4-4)
Good wins: at Richmond
Bad losses: at Saint Louis
Remaining top-100 road games: GW, VCU
Remaining top-100 home games: Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, Rhode Island, GW
Remaining top-150 games: at Duquesne
Kenpom predicted finish: 9-9

Richmond (3-5)
Good wins: at GW
Bad losses: none
Remaining top-100 road games: VCU
Remaining top-100 home games: Dayton
Remaining top-150 games: at Davidson, at Duquesne
Kenpom predicted finish: 9-9

RAMS’ REMAINING PATH

A pair of A-10 cellar-dwellers have knocked off top teams already, seeing SLU defeat both GW and Davidson and La Salle picking up a shocking home win over Dayton. Moral of that story? Every game counts and the path to a title is littered with land mines.

VCU’s biggest remaining land mines: at La Salle, at UMass, at George Mason

The road team has won every meeting in the VCU v La Salle three-game series since the two become Atlantic 10 conference mates.
The road team has won every meeting in the VCU v La Salle three-game series since the two become Atlantic 10 conference mates.

The Rams defeated George Mason with relative ease earlier this season (71-47) but will no doubt catch a much tougher Patriots team in Fairfax on Feb 24. Mason and VCU have a solid rivalry so I expect Patriot fans to come strong for that one. I also hope (and expect) a good number of VCU fans to make the trip to the Patriot Center. With a large alumni base in Northern VA, it shouldn’t be too hard to fill that place with the right gold that Wednesday night.

UMass is a tricky team, owning a top-100 neutral court win over Clemson, but also a current seven game losing streak that includes four home losses including a loss to a very bad Saint Louis team.

La Salle is on deck for the Rams and they’ll be looking for another big conference upset in what’s been a miserable season overall for the Explorers. They have two bad home losses already this season against Drexel (No.247) and UMass, and with a horrible team statistically could be a double-digit home dog on Wednesday.

If VCU’s caught reading their own headlines the Explorers could have a chance to pull the upset. I think last year’s La Salle win at the Siegel Center (with a much better team) will provide enough motivation for VCU to avoid looking past John Giannini’s squad.

As for the top teams, VCU currently holds head-to-head tie-breakers over both Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure, so equal records at the end of the season with either would give VCU the advantage and a top-seed if it came down to those teams.

The Rams’ biggest challenger however could come down to Dayton, who, like the Rams, have five top-100 games remaining with a top-150 contest to boot. The Rams get the benefit of hosting one more of those games than the Flyers, however Dayton steals back that advantage by hosting VCU in the only meeting between the two teams, coincidentally the final game of the season.

If both teams play to their potential and match the records expected of them, it could very well come down to the last game of the season in deciding this year’s Atlantic 10 champ. VCU will look to hold serve at home to help avoid that scenario while also getting some help from teams like Saint Joseph’s, Rhode Island and everyone’s favorite around here: Richmond.

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