2008-09 Season Primers: #7 – Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on November 4th, 2008

Predicted order of finish:

  1. Xavier (29-6, 14-2; Schedule)
  2. Temple (23-11, 12-4; Schedule)
  3. Charlotte (20-13, 11-5; Schedule)
  4. UMass (19-14, 10-6; Schedule)
  5. Dayton (22-11, 9-7; Schedule)
  6. St. Louis (21-11, 9-7; Schedule)
  7. St. Joseph’s (21-12, 8-8; Schedule)
  8. Rhode Island (16-17, 7-9; Schedule)
  9. Richmond (15-17, 7-9; Schedule)
  10. La Salle (13-18, 6-10; Schedule)
  11. George Washington (13-16, 6-10; Schedule)
  12. Duquesne (11-19, 5-11; Schedule)
  13. Fordham (8-22, 4-12; Schedule)
  14. St. Bonaventure (7-22, 4-12; Schedule)

WYN2K.  If the A-10 wants to lay claim to being one of the premier mid-majors [Note: Hold the e-mails, I'm not putting the A-10 with the big boys yet. If you want to, become an RTC correspondent], they will have plenty of shots against the big boys: Duke (3 times-Rhode Island, Duquesne, and Xavier), Kansas (2 times-UMass and Temple), Memphis (UMass), Tennessee (Temple), Texas (St. Joe’s), and many other less prestigious programs in BCS conferences.

Predicted Champion. Xavier (#4 NCAA). Last year, #3 seed Xavier made it to the Elite 8 before falling to perennial national semifinalist UCLA. While Xavier loses several key seniors, they should be able to remain the dominant team in the A-10 due to their superior depth (6 players last year averaged between 9.7 and 12.4 PPG with 3 of those players returning). The Musketeers return Derrick Brown (10.9 ppg), C.J. Anderson (10.7 ppg), and center Jason Love. The loss of the seniors may also be eased by the addition of 6-11 freshman Kenny Frease, freshman point guard Terrell Holloway, freshman shooting guard Brian Walsh, and Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford.  Helping lead the Musketeers will be Sean Miller who became the first Xavier coach to turn down an offer from a bigger name program in quite some time (see: Gillen, Pete; Prosser, Skip; and Matta, Thad). Xavier has a chance to put itself in position for a very high NCAA seed if they can beat Duke in a “neutral site” game in East Rutherford, NJ, on December 20th.  Here’s a clip on Xavier’s trip to the E8 last season.

Others Considered. To be perfectly honest, Xavier should run away with the A-10 this year. Their depth makes them resistant to any reasonable expectation of injuries. The only other legitimate contender if Xavier slips up is Temple (NCAA #10). The Owls, coached by Fran Dunphy (still seems weird not to see John Chaney on the sidelines or storming into other coach’s press conferences), will need to replace the all-around output of Mark Tyndale. They return Dionte Christmas, the A-10′s leading scorer, but he will face increased defensive pressure this year. The Owls also lost Chris Clark to graduation so they will need Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen, and Sergio Olmos to step up this year if they want to seriously challenge Xavier.  We also see Charlotte (NIT) and Dayton (NIT) as postseason teams.

RPI Boosters.

  • Rhode Island at Duke  (11.16.08)
  • UMass at Memphis  (11.17.08)
  • Virginia Commonwealth at Rhode Island  (11.22.08)
  • St. Joe’s vs. Texas (Lahaina, HI)  (11.24.08)
  • Dayton vs. Marquette (Hoffman Estates, IL)  (11.29.08)
  • Boston College at UMass  (12.06.08)
  • UMass vs. Kansas (Kansas City, MO)  (12.13.08)
  • Tennessee at Temple  (12.13.08)
  • Temple at Kansas  (12.20.08)
  • Oklahoma State at Rhode Island  (12.20.08)
  • Xavier vs. Duke (East Rutherford, NJ)  (12.20.08)
  • Butler at Xavier  (12.23.08)
  • Vanderbilt at UMass  (01.03.09)

Neat-O Stat. Despite being a mid-major league, the A-10 managed to get 2 programs into ESPN.com’s Prestige Rankings. Interestingly, they are the only programs to make the top 20 without having made a Final 4. The only A-10 team to have made the Final 4 is UMass, which checks in at #52. I guess this speaks to the rewards of being consistent. A while back some bums stated they were going to revise the criteria to come out with their own rankings. It’s coming. We promise. . .

65 Team Era.  As stated above, the A-10 is often the bridesmaid, never the bride, when it comes to the Final Four.  Ok, UMass did have its one shot at glory in 1996, but ten other times an A-10 team has gotten to the Elite Eight only to have its hopes dashed in that round (five times in the last decade).  This includes Temple five times, Xavier twice, UMass once, St. Joseph’s once, and Rhode Island once.  During the era, the A-10 has gone 63-65 (.492), which puts it right there with CUSA as the top mid-major league over the last quarter century. 

Final Thoughts. Despite my cheap shots, the A-10 is one of the top conferences in the country. Last year, they only managed to get three teams into the NCAA tournament, but has the potential to get a couple of more bids. To do this, teams will have to get to 10 wins in this conference since the bottom of the conference is so weak. If a lot of teams end up 9-7 or 8-8 in conference play, those teams will end up in the NIT again.

nvr1983 (1266 Posts)


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