Who Are We Talking About Here?
I’ll forgive you for not following the inner workings of the Atlantic 10 since the conference hasn’t had a team ranked in the Top 25 for kind of a long time now. With four games left on the schedule, the A10 is basically a two horse race. Both Dayton and VCU are tied atop the standings with 12-2 records. Sure, Richmond and Rhode Island could technically overtake both of them sitting in third with matching 9-5 records, but I feel pretty comfortable betting against that happening. Still, we’ll take a look at all four teams’ schedules and see what’s waiting for them during the last two weeks of the conference season.
VCU (22-5; 12-2)
VCU looks to be in the driver’s seat at first glance. They are holding down first place at the moment by virtue of both a better overall record (22-5 vs Dayton’s 21-5) and a head-to-head win over the Flyers. Since they still have a game at Dayton, though, they will have an uphill battle to win the regular season. Here’s VCU’s remaining schedule:
vs. SLU (2/22)
@ URI (2/25)
@ Dayton (3/1)
vs. GMU (3/4)
Outside of SLU – a spectacularly bad team – that’s not an easy way to finish the season. Both the URI and Dayton games are going to be struggles for the Rams, but they’ve been demonstrated an ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat…even in some bizarre ways. VCU is a very good team, but you could make a convincing case that they should be 10-4 in conference. They’re also a completely different (and far worse) team on the road, having lost to Fordham (yikes) and Davidson (woof) and needing the aforementioned miracles to win at St. Bonaventure and George Washington. You’ve got to wonder if they’re going to be able to keep the mojo working at URI and Dayton.
Predicted finish: 2-2, winning both home games and dropping both road games.
Dayton (21-5; 12-2)
The Flyers have a more favorable schedule than VCU, mostly by virtue of the rematch being at UD Arena. The winner of that game is almost certainly going to win the conference, so one would think the Arena will be #LOWD. Here’s UD’s remaining schedule:
vs. George Mason (2/21)
@ Davidson (2/24)
vs. VCU (3/1)
@ George Washington (3/4)
It’s more favorable, but it’s not easy. VCU isn’t the only team in the A10 that has been living dangerously, either, as the Flyers needed a preposterous comeback to survive Rhode Island. I’ve been nervous about that Davidson game for a while, particularly since they’re going notice that VCU matchup looming on the horizon. Outside of the George Mason game tomorrow, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Flyers dropped any of the remaining games. That being said, they’re playing their best ball now and working Cunningham back into action. Things are looking pretty good for the Flyers at the right time of the year.
Predicted finish: 3-1, I’m thinking they drop the Davidson game. If VCU manages to avoid losing at Rhode Island, the winner of the 3/1 rematch actually might not win the conference. That would be annoyingly anticlimactic.
Rhode Island (17-9; 9-5)
Thanks to the mediocrity clogging the bubble this year, Rhode Island is still hanging around the fringes of possible NCAA Tournament at-large consideration. I thought their loss to the Flyers doomed their chances for an at-large bid. Then I knew they were dead in the water when they lost to Fordham…at home. I’m still seeing them on the bubble, so apparently I was wrong. Still, finishing strong and making the final of the A10 Tournament (at a minimum) seems necessary if they’re going to dance. Here’s their remaining schedule:
@ La Salle (2/21)
vs. VCU (2/25)
@ St. Joe’s (3/1)
vs. Davidson (3/4)
Davidson is going to have a strangely large say in how this all plays out since they play three of the teams on this list. The Rams’ recent loss to Fordham makes their remaining schedule a tough read, but St. Joe’s is injured, young, and bad (that’s no way to go through life) and Davidson won’t have a lot left to play for by the time the Rams get there. Obviously, the biggest game here is their game against VCU. That should be a fun one.
Predicted finish: 4-0. Even with that weird Fordham loss, the Rams are a tough out at home and their remaining road games in Philly aren’t that tough. That being said, if they dropped the next two I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
Richmond (15-11; 9-5)
Richmond is a weird team. They don’t have a realistic chance of winning this thing, but they have managed to play decently well in a down A10. One thing to keep an eye on is potential bid larceny with these guys in the A10 Tournament. They’re capable of running the table for a week. Here’s their remaining schedule:
vs. Davidson (2/21)
@ Fordham (2/25)
@ UMass (3/1)
vs. SLU (3/4)
That is a cakewalk. Richmond has dropped its last two games, though so they might not even be able to walk on cake without slipping. Come to think of it, that’s kind of a stupid way to describe something as being easy. Who the hell walks on cake? Anyway, they should win all four of these games.
Predicted finish: 4-0, which could get them a share of first if Dayton and VCU both spit the bit. I just can’t see both of them doing that, though. They’re seemingly destined to finish third.