Thoughts on the Atlantic 10’s Postseason Teams

Posted by Joe Dzuback (@vbtnblog) on March 14th, 2016

As we head into the heart of March Madness with the NCAA Tournament starting this week, let’s quickly review some of the key takeaways from the Atlantic 10 Tournament over the weekend in Brooklyn.

St. Joseph's Celebrated (USA Today Images)

St. Joseph’s Celebrated Its A-10 Title on Sunday in Brooklyn (USA Today Images)

At least six Atlantic 10 teams are still playing basketball, although only three will do so in the NCAA Tournament. It was clear as January turned to February that four A-10 teams were playing in a league of their own — Dayton, Saint Joseph’s, Virginia Commonwealth and St. Bonaventure. All four were dialed in during conference play, fighting among themselves to determine which would take or share the regular season title. After Selection Sunday, the three teams included in the field of 68 drew seeds ranging from #7 (Dayton) to #8 (Saint Joseph’s) to #10 (VCU). The shocker of Selection Sunday might have been the snub of the Bonnies, a team projected to make the field in 71 of the 80 brackets included in Bracket Matrix. Meanwhile, Davidson and George Washington joined a disappointed St. Bonaventure club in scooping NIT bids. Beyond those six, look for Fordham and/or Richmond to play in the CBI, CIT or Vegas 16. Rhode Island is, as coach Dan Hurley admitted after the Rams lost to Massachusetts Thursday, too banged up to be effective. Its season is over. Here are some thoughts on those teams still playing:

  • Dayton and VCU won’t sneak up on anyone this season. They may represent the conference’s name brands but each has significant flaws this season. VCU lacks multiple scoring threats, especially when their offense is initiated from the half-court. Senior guard Melvin Johnson and center Mo Alie-Cox can score — but only when someone besides Johnson is hot from the outside does the Rams’ offense look dangerous. Dayton won two games last year and ran all the way to the Elite Eight in 2014. This season’s ennui may stem from a variety of minor injuries, a concussion protocol implemented at the worst time and a fall semester suspension. On paper this team looks better than last season, but the Flyers have really struggled since Valentine’s Day.

  • Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure are the true A-10 sleepers this postseason. The Hawks run a five-out, zero-in motion offense that stretches the defense along the three-point line. Coach Phil Martelli has two forwards who can drive and dish like guards and a center who can back his guy down as easily as he can step out to 22 feet and drop a three. Pick your poison – the Joe’s can beat both man-to-man and zone defense. And if Marcus Posley‘s ankle, injured in St. Bonaventure’s loss to Davidson Friday night, is healthy, NIT opponents may be forced to battle the fury of a deserving Tournament team scorned.
  • Bye-bye, Brooklyn! The urbanscape, the fashion-forward architectural style and media-rich location for the A-10 Tournament matches the marketing strategy developed by Commissioner Bernadette McGlade since she took over in 2008. Equal applications of carrots and sticks induced the conference to “defer” the last three years of their contract, thereby allowing the Atlantic Coast Conference to “rotate” its conference tournament to Brooklyn for 2017 and 2018. For local fans who have come to enjoy the flowing but physical game offered by this conference, March 2019 cannot come soon enough.
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