RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament ChampionshipPosted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2012
It’s an old familiar name versus a new one in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game, as Xavier will match up against surging St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon with a guaranteed bid on the line.
Game #81. Xavier and Saint Bonaventure face off for the Atlantic 10 Tournament title in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Musketeers and Bonnies were seeded #3 and #4, respectively. This matchup might raise eyebrows, but anyone who has followed the conference knows that seven members logged 20 or more wins this season, at least three teams will draw NCAA bids and two teams are led by the preseason co-favorites for Player of the Year. Back in October everyone assumed Xavier would be here and more than a few believed Saint Bonaventure could be good enough to be here too. It just did not look that way in late January.
Xavier did it the old fashioned way. Drawing the #3 seed after a disappointing (for Xavier, half of the coaches in the A-10 would kill to have a 10-6 record and a #3 seed) conference season, Xavier came from behind to beat long time rival Dayton in the quarterfinals and then put on a great 19-2 run over a six-minute period that spanned the two halves to knock out the #2 seed Saint Louis. Tu Holloway has played 77 of the two games’ 80 available minutes, scoring 42 points to power the Xavier offense.
Saint Bonaventure backed into the #4 seed when conference mates Dayton, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle all faltered down the stretch. At times it seemed that of the four the Bonnies wanted to lose it the least. Mike Schmidt’s squad beat Saint Joseph’s for the second time in two weeks in the quarterfinals, behind a stellar performance by Conference Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson. In the semifinals they beat a hot Massachusetts squad that beat them by nine earlier in the season, 84-80 behind Demitrius Congers’ 22 point outburst. Nicholson has scored 44 points over the two games and, like Holloway, appears on a collision course with Holloway for the Tournament MVP honor. The winner gets the automatic bid though many here in Atlantic City believe Xavier’s ticket has already been punched. A Saint Bonaventure win might translate into four NCAA bids, but it would definitely give the 14-team conference it’s eighth 20-game winner this season.
The game will be a final in more than one way as the Atlantic-10 Tournament will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next March. Join RTC Live for the A-10 Conference Tournament’s last game in historic Boardwalk Hall.