Big East Summer Capsules: Villanova Wildcats

Posted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Villanova.

1. Bidding adieu to Kennedy and saying hello to Chennault.

The Wildcats made two important changes to their roster this summer. The first was officially saying goodbye to sophomore center Markus Kennedy who announced he would transfer, then reportedly reconsidered the decision, then ended up transferring after all. The second was welcoming former Wake Forest point guard Tony Chennault into the fold – the Wildcats also added former Rice guard Dylan Ennis, but he will have to sit out a year before making his Villanova debut. Kennedy showed some promise as a freshman last season, but he expected to be buried on the depth chart and decided to transfer to SMU. The Wildcats will miss the depth, but he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact this season anyway. The more important move is the arrival of Chennault, a Philadelphia native who received an NCAA waiver because of his mother’s health issues to play right away. Chennault averaged 9.2 PPG and 2.8 APG for the Demon Deacons before transferring and his arrival will be a huge boon for the Wildcats who lost starting guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to the draft. Chennault may not become the same type of scorer Wayns was, but he should get every opportunity to start and instantly becomes the most experienced guard on the roster, so there is no doubt that Jay Wright is happy to have him.

2. Are the Wildcats starting from scratch?

Jay Wright Has His Work Cut Out For Him Rebuilding The Program

That is the question that the Philadelphia Daily News posed earlier this month in a long article and interview with ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright. Last season was an unmitigated disaster, and say what you want about Wayns and Cheek, but they would have been valuable players to have this season. There is still a lot of talent on campus and more talent coming in time for this season, but this team hardly stacks up against some of the best teams Wright has assembled in the last five years. Wright acknowledges that his team has a lot of work to do before it can again achieve the success their fans have grown accustomed to recently, but he also thinks the program has built up enough credibility that a rebound can happen quickly. It will likely depend on how quickly freshmen Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu can become impact contributors and whether or not mercurial sophomore Tyrone Johnson can make the leap and become a consistent playmaker. Down the road it will depend on whether Wright can continue to land high-profile recruits, the types that helped the Wildcats make the Elite Eight and Final Four in recent years.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 03.15.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on March 15th, 2012

  1. If the NIT is any indication of how the Big Ten will fare in today’s NCAA Tournament games, then I think the conference will be happy.  Minnesota traveled to Philadelphia to take on LaSalle, and came away with a 70-61 win.  While Tubby Smith’s crew didn’t have the season some wanted in Gopher-land, they have been playing better over the past couple weeks, and last night they showed off those improvements.  One of the main reasons is the play of star forward Rodney Williams, who took control with 17 of his 21 points coming in the second half, including a monstrous dunk that showed off his athleticism.
  2. There is plenty to worry about when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.  Travel, preparation, an unfamiliar opponent, and… altitude???  That’s exactly what Wisconsin has to deal with, as its game in Albuquerque is about 4,500 feet higher above sea level than Madison.  The Badgers arrived Tuesday, and have been working on getting adjusted so that it doesn’t become a factor in its game against Montana.  At this point, it’s not a matter of the team not being in shape; it’s being able to catch your breath in the heat of battle when the air is a little thinner.
  3. When you start four sophomores, many would say that your team lacks experience.  But when all four of those sophomores suffered an early exit last year in the NCAA Tournament, they have enough experience to know that they don’t want to go through something like that again.  Such is the case at Ohio State, who outside of William Buford, has four sophomores who watched Kentucky’s Brandon Knight hit a jumper with five seconds left last year to knock the Buckeyes out of the Tournament.  It is a memory that guys like Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft don’t want to repeat.
  4. It’s the time of year when changes are made in both the coaching ranks and in player personnel, and Penn State is suffering some attrition as sophomore guard Matt Glover has decided to transfer.  Originally from California, the defensive stopper will move on to other opportunities for his basketball future.
  5. As Illinois moves on to find a replacement for Bruce Weber, the program still needs someone to lead it, and that someone is Jerrance Howard.  The Illini assistant is currently the interim coach until a new one is named, and it’s his job to keep things in order until athletic director Mike Thomas makes a new hire.  Whether that decision is made in a week or in a month, Howard will keep plugging along, doing his best to keep things running smoothly in Champaign.
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Past Imperfect: The L Train Rolls On…

Posted by JWeill on November 23rd, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Every two weeks, RTC contributor Joshua Lars Weill (@AgonicaBoss|Email) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the forgotten greatness of La Salle’s Lionel Simmons.

We all want to be remembered. We slog through our days hoping we can create something lasting, something that will point back to our time here and show we were worthy, that we made something of ourselves. Competitive athletes have even more impetus to do so, as it’s a big stitch in the very fabric of what they do. You win to be acknowledged. You win to gain affection. You win, quite honestly, to be remembered.

But what does it take to be remembered? It isn’t enough just to accomplish great things. It’s something more than that. Lots of players reach the pinnacle of the sport but remain afterthoughts once the bright lights are turned off. Too many times, players are remembered solely for the one big thing they did, right or wrong. Maybe it’s the game-winner at the buzzer, or the brain freeze that cost the team at the wrong time. Whole careers of effort are forgotten in lieu of the one big thing.

The 1989-90 NCAA basketball season was chock full of big things, stars and teams who made that season one that elicits a whoosh of nostalgia and basketball awe: powerful UNLV with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Tark “The Shark”; Georgia Tech’s “Lethal Weapon Three” of Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott; Arkansas’ “40 Minutes of Hell” powered by Todd Day and Lee Mayberry; Duke’s choir boys Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley and the boss choir boy himself, Coach K; LSU’s Chris Jackson and Shaq; and many more.

What most people recall about 1990 is the “Loyola Marymount” story. And indeed it was that season’s NCAA Tournament that immediately followed All-American Hank Gathers’ collapse and death, the event rendering Gathers’ All-American year almost a tragic footnote. Each spring you’ll see at least one clip of Gathers’ childhood friend from Philadelphia and college teammate Bo Kimble bravely playing on, shooting free throws left-handed to honor his fallen comrade. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 04.18.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

  1. Mike DeCourcy wrote an article late last week attempting to explode the myths surrounding the one-and-done phenomenon, and although he takes a different tact than we would with it, we both pretty much arrive in the same place.  As our analyses of one-and-doners from 2007-10 have shown, having a single-year player pass through your program can help in ways beyond merely Ws and Ls — it can also help with marketing, recruiting and elevating the general cachet of the school.  Through last summer, we estimated that 20 of the 35 one-and-doners (57%) had either been worth it or well worth it, and we don’t expect that  percentage to change much after this year’s crop is settled. (see our yearly analyses here: 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010)  Does this mean that that programs with large amounts of annual one-and-done turnover will lack the experience needed to win the national title — possibly, but no coach is going to turn down elite talent on the happenstance that he may only play college ball for one year (or two, if the NBA’s CBA changes soon).
  2. Speaking of the next great crop of elite players, the Jordan Brand Classic occurred Saturday night in Charlotte, with a large number of the top prospects in the Class of 2011 showing their stuff.  UNC recruit James McAdoo and Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis shared the MVP honors, with McAdoo hitting the clinching FTs with 1.6 seconds remaining to lead his East squad to the victory over Davis’ West team.  We’ll have much more on this later today in our Who’s Got Next? post, but let’s just say that Kentucky fans are drooling over the duo of Davis (29/11) and Marquis Teague playing off each other next season.
  3. Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto announced on Friday that he will be leaving Pullman to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.  The junior averaged 12/7 last season for the Cougs and was selected to the all-Pac-10 second team.  Although he is questionable in terms of draftability, he became a father in 2010 and that no doubt influenced his decision to leave school.  He mentioned in his statement that he would be fine with playing overseas for a little while first.  Let’s hope it works out for him.
  4. Some weekend transfer news…  LaSalle’s Aaric Murray has apparently narrowed his choices down to either Kansas or West Virginia.  The 6’10 sophomore averaged 15/8 last season in his second consecutive all-Big Five season for the Explorers.  He will have to sit out the 2011-12 season, but would be well poised to step into a starting role at either school after Thomas Robinson and Kevin Jones move through their respective programs.  Over in Syracuse, Jim Boeheim intimated that troubled freshman Dion Waiters may be on the outs sooner rather than later, noting during the weekend that “sometimes change is better for everyone.”  Waiters is considered a possible star in the making, but his attitude has gotten him into hot water at SU and he may have to blossom elsewhere next year.
  5. An estimated 40,000 fans turned out in Hartford to celebrate the UConn Huskies’ national championship season on Saturday afternoon.  Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker and the rest were all smiles as they paraded through the streets on a double-decker bus carrying the hardware they earned in Houston two Mondays ago.  The Hartford Courant had a bunch of great pictures on their site which we suggest you check out, but the below photo was our favorite one.  Given the cash-strapped state of the Connecticut government, it took a considerable amount of private proceeds from local businesses to make the parade actually happen (instead of a much smaller rally), which shows just how much the area supports their team — when it came to put up or shut up, they put up their own funds to make it happen.

    Kemba & Co. Celebrated in Style Sunday (H-C/B.Hansen)

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Morning Five: 04.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 12th, 2011

  1. In absolutely no surprise whatsoever, UConn All-American and Final Four MOP Kemba Walker is expected to announce that he will forgo his final season of eligibility in Storrs and enter the NBA Draft.  His decision to go pro has been an open secret for some time, as he will graduate in May and his jersey has already been retired into the rafters at Gampel Pavilion.  The RTC NPOY will without question go down as the most popular player in UConn history, and when you consider some of the tremendous names who have come through that program — Chris Smith, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, etc. — this is high praise, indeed.
  2. Conversely, it was a rather large surprise that a presumptive top five pick, Baylor’s Perry Jones, announced on Monday that he will be returning to Waco for his sophomore season.  The 6’11 forward had a solid 2010-11 campaign, averaging 14/7 and earning a spot on the all-Big 12 freshman team, although his offensive production tailed off in the later part of the season.  Jones’ return, along with UNC’s Harrison Barnes and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (supposedly), means that three of the very best members of the Class of 2010 will be back playing college basketball again next season.  Thanks, NBA lockout.
  3. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Monday that the NCAA secondary violation that contributed to Bruce Pearl’s dismissal last month involved the director of basketball operations providing two free tickets to a player’s mother.  According to a report sent from UT to the SEC discussing the violation, neither the coaching staff nor the player knew of the violation at the time, which begs the question as to why such a relatively minor problem was deemed a final straw in leading to Pearl’s firing.  Of course, there was the 30-point Second Round NCAA loss to Michigan where his players quit on him… there’s that, too.
  4. While on the subject of tickets, one of the Kansas “consultants” to the KU Athletic Department who was involved in the selling of ducats for private profit was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in federal prison.  Kenneth Blubagh and his wife Charlette, the former Director of the KU Ticket Office, had pleaded guilty to bilking Kansas out of nearly a million dollars in ticket sales over the past half-decade that they used to buy extravagant vacations and other lavish toys.  The best line from this article referred to Kenneth’s role as consultant: “Blubaugh…was on the Kansas Athletics payroll as a consultant from August 2007 until January 2010. Prosecutors say they still aren’t sure what consulting duties he had handled, other than furthering the conspiracy.”
  5. Some transfer news…  St. Louis center Willie Reed, one of two star players (along with Kwamain Mitchell) involved in an on-campus sexual assault last summer and subsequently booted from school for the fall semester, has dropped out of SLU after having become reinstated in January.  There’s no report as to whether he plans on transferring anywhere else, but he’ll obviously need to get his academic house back in order after missing two consecutive semesters if he plans on playing college basketball again.  Also, South Carolina guard Ramon Galloway is leaving the Gamecock program for LaSalle, despite playing nearly 25 MPG and averaging 11/3 for Darrin Horn’s squad last season.  He represents the seventh player to transfer out of the program in Horn’s three-year tenure at the school.  Considering that SC has finished at or near the bottom of the SEC East the last two seasons, this isn’t the kind of confidence-inspiring news that Horn needs as he tries to rebuild that program.
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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2011

Games #193-194.  RTC Live moves down to the sand and slots of Atlantic City for the Atlantic 10’s annual postseason tournament.

6:30 pm. La Salle vs. Temple. These two Big 5 rivals share a series that dates back to 1900, and will bring a taste of Philadelphia ball to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The third meeting this season, promises to be another, down to the last minute battle between Temple’s Coach Fran Dunphy and La Salle’s Dr. John Giannini. This season Dunphy holds a 2-0 edge. Can the Owls, who won the two previous meetings by margins of four and eight, make it a three-game sweep? A third win may not be as easy as it looks. Temple will be led by Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez and Scottie Randall, all of whom were named to All-Conference teams (First, Second, Third and Most Improved) earlier in the week. La Salle, in Atlantic City by virtue of a road win over St. Bonaventure, will be led by All-Conference Rookie First Team guard Tyreek Duren, well regarded center/forward Aaric Murray and seniors Jerrell Williams and Ruben Guillandeaux. The seniors have a 1-7 record versus Temple.

9:00 pm. Rhode Island vs. Richmond. Seeded #3 in the conference tournament, sits on Zach Hayes’ #11 seed line (3/10/2011 edition) and needs wins, as many as All-Conference First Teamers Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson can gather in Atlantic City, for their NCAA resume. Running the table would guarantee a bid, but two wins would provide insurance against any more upsets in the other conference tournaments. Conference tournament upsets have pushed Rhode Island out of the NIT, but Coach Jim Baron’s team has played the spoiler all season, collecting untimely wins versus Boston College, Dayton, and Duquesne. And most significant of all, Rhode Island beat Richmond, by four, in Richmond earlier this season. The Runnin’ Rams, led by All-Conference Second Team forward Delroy James, beat Saint Louis 70-61, on Tuesday to punch their ticket to Atlantic City.

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Morning Five: 01.11.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 11th, 2011

  1. News broke late Monday that a Washington player is currently under investigation for sexual assault of a sixteen-year old girl whom he allegedly met on Saturday night through Facebook.  It’s notable that the report out of Seattle cites the player as “prominent,” which is language that it would be unlikely to use if they were talking about a walk-on or other benchwarmer.  With Abdul Gaddy already on the shelf with a torn ACL and now this disconcerting news, Lorenzo Romar’s team could be on the verge of self-destruction after a strong first half of this season.
  2. Some transfer news for your Tuesday morning.  Former Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph will end up in Oregon to play for Dana Altman next season, while Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger announced that he is transferring to La Salle.  Both of these players are difference-makers for their new programs.  Joseph was attracted to the more uptempo style of play employed by Altman, while Standhardinger will step into a starting role with plenty of playing time next season on the Main Line.
  3. Speaking of second chances, Kansas forward Mario Little has been reinstated by head coach Bill Self and will be eligible to play immediately.  Little has missed KU’s last six games as he worked through some legal issues surrounding a misdemeanor battery and other criminal charges from an incident that took place in mid-December.  Prior to his suspension, Little was averaging 6/4 in about sixteen minutes per game backing up Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed.  The rich get richer…
  4. Bill Carmody received a “multi-year extension” recently at Northwestern even though he’s been coaching in Evanston for ten-plus years now and has yet to get the Big Ten school to the NCAA Tournament.  Granted, his career record of 143-160 (.472) at the school is virtually unprecedented, but even though it now appears that the Wildcat program is moving in the right direction (back-to-back NITs in 2009 and 2010), Carmody still has more tenth and eleventh place finishes (four) than he does Big Ten finishes in the top half (one).
  5. The nation’s top 25 freshmen players, as presented to you by Basketball Prospectus.  Since it comes from that site, you know that they have the statistics to back up the choices.  The most amazing thing?  That preseason AP All-American Harrison Barnes hasn’t even performed well enough to be considered one of the top 25 frosh in the country so far — would anyone have taken that bet prior to November 1???
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Looking Back in the A-10: Road Warriors & Homebodies

Playing some part of the out of conference schedule away from the comforts of the home arena is increasingly a fact of life for every Division 1 program that has any aspirations for life beyond the conference championship tournament. Travel is a budgetary requirement for some teams in a few conferences, but by and large A-10 teams travel either because of the challenge (Temple’s former Head Coach John Chaney had an “anytime, anywhere” policy for scheduling out of conference games), for the RPI bump or for the national exposure that comes from participation in the early season invitational tournaments. The Road Warriors this season are listed first in the table below:

In addition to counting all away (a game played in the opponent’s arena) or neutral court games as a “not at home” game, I also count games neither neutral nor technically “away”, but out of the program’s home arena, as a “not at home” game. That half of the conference has played at least 50% of their games “not at home” is a little surprising (but not shocking). That ten of the conference’s 14 members (71.4%) play at least 40% of their schedule away from their home arena makes me wonder if this is a strategy to help the boost the conference RPI. For Xavier, the strategy may have backfired. The Musketeers took three neutral court games at the Paradise Jam and scheduled an away game with Miami (OH) as a balance to their west coast trip to Gonzaga (this Wednesday) and their Crosstown Shootout game with rival Cincinnati, but they lost the Miami game in possibly their worst performance of the season. Rhode Island’s Jim Baron scheduled quite a few for the Rams this season, especially in the early part of the season. Duquesne had a terrible travel record last season, and Coach Ron Everhart appears to have taken the bull by the horns and scheduled a greater number of road games early in the season. The Dukes opened a four-game home stand with a game against IUPUI, and will take to the road to open the A-10 conference season (and take one last out of conference road foray, this time to cupcake Houston Baptist in Houston, TX).

Can anyone blame Fordham for being a bit road shy? Going into the season it appeared Coach Tom Pecora would have his hands full just logging wins. The Rams have done that much and more, logging their first road win in two seasons already.

Taking the team on the road is one thing, but how did A-10 team’s fare once out there? The table above suggests that the teams perform about as well as teams from most “above the Red Line” conference can expect. Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s, the two programs that have taken the largest portion of their schedules out of their own arenas, appear to be underperforming (compare their won-loss records with their efficiency differential in the far right column above), which might be expected from so much time away from the comforts of home. Massachusetts and Fordham might surprise, but remember that Fordham has taken very few games out of Rose Hill, and two of the Minutemen “not on the home court” games came in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, just a few miles away from the campus and thousands of miles (and a few climate zones) away from the homes of Texas Christian and New Mexico State. Given the last minutes roster changes at St. Louis, the Billikens’ difficulties are hardly surprising. Replacing critical members of the squad is tricky enough, but having to implement the transition in hostile environs can really kill a team’s post season chances. The biggest disappointment on the list (so far) has to be Dayton. The Flyers are supposed to mount a serious challenge for the conference title this season, but though the squad has a good share of upperclassmen, they have struggled at times. The road loss to Cincinnati was devastating, and the efficiency numbers for out of home court games reflects that.

Power Rankings

Movement in the rankings comes among the bottom three this week, as Fordham has pushed their record to 5-4, and leapfrogged George Washington and Saint Joseph’s. The conference season will most likely bring the rankings back to “regular order”, but for now, Fordham has the better record won against good competition. They earned the bump this past week.

1.  Temple (8-2)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. Northern Illinois 84-74

Next Week: 12/22 @Ohio

Like most teams, Temple faces that between-the-semesters slump in student support. Coach Dunphy penned a thank you note for fan support at the Georgetown win (December 2, 68-65) and an appeal for a big turnout for the Northern Illinois game last Saturday. The response from the Temple fanbase was a bit less than resounding, though probably better than all but one other Division 1 game played in Philadelphia last Saturday. If Ramone Moore was upset he took it out on the (NIU) Huskies, as he earned his third Honorable Mention from the conference for his 21 point, (career-high) six assist and (career-high) two blocked shot effort Saturday night. He scored his 21 efficiently, recording a 62.5% eFG% on 7-12 overall (1-3 on threes, 6-9 on twos) and 6-10 from the stripe.  The nucleus of the Temple offense is forming around senior forward Lavoy Allen, junior center/forward Michael Eric (when he is in the game) and a committee of junior guards Juan Fernandez, wing Scootie Randall and Moore. The Northern Illinois game is the latest in the pattern that saw Allen and Eric score efficiently (and often) when they are in the game, with either Moore of Randall lighting it up from the back court/wing spots. Fernandez might join the party as well, or just set the others up offensively. For NIU, Moore was hitting his shots and Randall was not.

2.  Richmond (8-3)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. Georgia Tech 54-67

Next Week: 12/22 UNC-Greensboro, 12/26 @Seton Hall

Down by one at the half (25-24), the Spiders managed to take a two point lead (36-34) 25 minutes into their game at Atlantis in the Bahamas on a Kevin Anderson three. Over the last 15 (or so) minutes of the game however, the Spiders collapsed…on both sides of the ball. Over their last 25 possessions Chris Mooney’s squad posted a terrible 0.63 points per possession, considerably less than the 1.0 considered minimally efficient in D1 ball. Georgia Tech by contrast converted their possessions to points at a 1.34 rate, good enough for an additional 33 points and a 13-point winning margin. If fouls and turnovers are an indication of lost composure, Richmond’s 10 fouls and five turnovers over that last 15 minutes suggest the squad unraveled a bit. The Jackets managed a 123.1 FTA/FGA, capitalizing on Richmond’s tendency to foul when Tech went to the basket. Justin Harper and Darien Brothers in particular struggled with their shots, going a collective 2-10 overall (1-5 for threes, 1-5 for two point attempts) from the field.

3.  Dayton (9-3)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. Western Carolina 71-60, 12/20 vs. Winthrop 73-58

Next Week: 12/22 @Seton Hall

The Flyers posted a 2-0 week as senior forward Chris Wright drew a conference honorable mention for his career-high 30 points in Dayton’s win over Western Carolina. The senior forward scored another 10 points versus Winthrop to average 20.0 for the week. Freshman point guard Jawan Staten dished 18 assists against 4 turnovers in the Flyers’ two wins.  Coach Gregory’s squad returns to the New York City metro area, scene of their NIT triumph last March, as they look for this season’s 10th win at Seton Hall. Rush the Court will host a live blog Wednesday night from Seton Hall’s home court (“The Rock”) in downtown Newark, NJ.

4.  Xavier (7-2)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. Wake Forest 83-75

Next Week: 12/22 @Gonzaga

With the win over struggling Wake Forest, Xavier pushed their record to 7-2. Junior guard Tu Holloway shared Player of the Week honors with St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson. Holloway notched a triple-double when he scored 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, the rebounds and assists are career-highs for Holoway. Junior Kenny Frease paced the X-men with a double-double of his own, his third this season. Frease scored 22 points on 11-19 overall shooting and 0-1 from the line and pulled down 14 rebounds.

5.  Massachusetts (7-3)

Last Week:  None.

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Central Florida

Finals and end of the fall semester sidelined the Minutemen last week.

6.  Rhode Island (7-4)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. New Hampshire 64-52

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Lafayette

Coach Jim Baron’s squad downed New Hampshire by 12 points as senior Delroy James again led the Rams in scoring with 22 points on 8-22 overall (4-8 three pointer attempts, 4-14 two point attempts) and 2-2 from the free throw line. Sophomore forward Nikola Malesevic was the second squad member to break into double figure scoring, as he hit 3-6 overall (2-4 three pointers, 1-2 two pointers) and 3-4 from the line to score 11 points. The Rams should have little trouble taking Lafayette out of the Patriot League, and they two more chances for resume wins as they host Boston College on the 29th and travel to Florida for a game on January 2nd. They should have suspended sophomore Orion Outerbridge, benched this fall for academic problems, back shortly. Outerbridge should provide more rebounding and another scoring option to go with James, Malesevic, and guards Akeem Richmond and Marquis Jones.

7. La Salle (6-5)

Last Week: 12/17 vs. Bucknell 77-89

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Rider

Sophomore Aaric Murray earned his fourth conference honorable mention for his career-high 28 points as the Explorers dropped the second straight game in their home stand, 77-89, to Bucknell of the Patriot League. Although two other squad members, guard Ruben Guillandeaux and forward Jerrell Williams chipped in more than 10 points apiece (15 and 13 respectively), La Salle could not avoid their fifth loss on the season.

8.  St. Bonaventure (5-3)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. Ohio 112-107 (4OT)

Next Week: 12/23 vs. Virginia Tech, 12/28 vs. Siena

The conference split the Player of the Week honors between Tu Holloway and the Bonnies’ forward/center Andrew Nicholson this week. The junior joined the list of “Most Points Scored in a Single Game” in the Bonaventure program at #8 while posting his fifth consecutive double-double. Three other Bonnies, senior Ogo Adegboye (with 13), sophomore Demitrius Conger (with 23) and junior Michael Davenport (with 19) scored in double digits in the longest game played by a St. Bonaventure team.

9.  Duquesne (5-4)

Last Week: 12/18 vs. IUPUI 81-54

Next Week: 12/22 vs. George Mason

The Dukes pushed their record north of 0.500 with a 17 point win over IUPUI.  Four Dukes, senior wing Damian Saunders (12 points), freshman forward Joel Wright (11 points) and junior BJ Monteiro (11 points) scored double-digit points as senior forward Bill Clark drew his fourth conference Honorable Mention in six weeks for his double-double which included 17 points and 14 rebounds. Clark also dished five dimes, tied with freshman point TJ McConnell and two less than freshman guard Mike Talley’s seven.

10.  Saint Louis (4-5)

Last Week: 12/15 vs. Jacksonville 69-64, 12/18 @Missouri State 61-85

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Northeastern (Cancun Governor’s Cup), 12/23 TBD (Cancun Governor’s Cup), 12/24 TBD (Cancun Governor’s Cup)

The Billikens continue to struggle to get north of the 0.500 mark. Coach Rick Majerus is looking for leaders, and so far the freshmen appear to be the ones stepping forward. The St. Louis scoring leader in both games last week was freshman guard Jordair Jett (16 vs. Jacksonville and 18 versus Missouri State), with junior wing Kyle Cassity next (14 and 11)  the third scorer in each game was a different player, but always a freshman (Jacksonville – Dwayne Evans with 11; Missouri State – Mike McCall with 11).

11.  Charlotte (5-6)

Last Week: 12/17 vs. Tennessee 49-48

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Wright State

The 49ers recorded the first big win of the Alan Major Era with their one point win before 8,400 fans in the Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte. The game was played for 60 possessions, about 12% lower than the Division 1 average, and about 15% below the 70 possessions the Vols normally play for. Darrio Green was the most efficient Charlotte scorer, converting at a 50% eFG% rate with a 1.32 PPWS, though he only took 17% of the shots while he was on the court. Jamar Briscoe, playing about the same amount of time (92.5% of the minutes at pg) took 32% of the shots and hit at a far less efficient 30% eFG%. Briscoe scored a point more than Green (14 vs. 13), but was considerably less efficient doing so.

12.  Fordham (5-4)

Last Week:  None.

Next Week: 12/22 vs. Kennesaw State, 12/27 @Georgia Tech

The Rams are on hiatus, concentrating on finals. Coach Tom Pecora’s charges will swing back into action against Kennesaw State and then take a post holiday trip to Atlanta, Georgia to face the Yellow Jackets.

13.  George Washington (4-5)

Last Week: 12/18 @Oregon State 87-79

Next Week: 12/22 vs. East Carolina, 12/27 @UAB

Freshman forward Namanja Mikic became the latest name in the Rookie of the Year conversation with his 19 point performance against Oregon State last Saturday. Mikic shot 6-11 from the field (6-10 three pointers, 0-1 two pointers) and 1-3 from the line for a striking 81.8% eFG%. The eight point win was the first Colonial road win over an above the Red Line team since 2001. Junior wing Tony Taylor also drew an Honorable Mention for his double-double versus the Beavers. Taylor scored 19 points while dishing 11 assists.

14.  Saint Joseph’s (3-7)

Last Week:  None.

Next Week: 12/21 @Boston University,

Off for finals and a much needed regrouping, the Hawks take to the road to play Boston University.

Looking Ahead in the A-10

  • Rush the Court will play close attention to the road games of Dayton and Richmond this week, as both travel to the Rock in Newark to take on the Pirates of Seton Hall University. This correspondent will host a live blog from the Rock in Newark for each game.
  • Rhode Island should have news about Orion Outerbridge this week. If the sophomore has passed his fall classes he should rejoin the team for the Rams’ Wednesday game versus Lafayette.
  • St. Louis will head south to participate in the Cancun Governor’s Cup Invitational. The Bills drew Northeastern in the first round, with East Tennessee State or Southern Mississippi in the second round. Third round candidates include Mississippi, Appalachian State, Colorado State, or Texas State. This three game set will be the longest out-of-Chaifetz experience for the Bills this season, with ESPN televising some of the games. The Cancun Governor’s Cup is the second-to-last invitational tournament in which an A-10 team is slated to participate. Fordham will play two games in Santa Clara, CA on December 29 & 30 to close out the A-10’s early season invitational participation.
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Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.  He will be at the A10 Tournament reporting throughout the weekend. 

Conference Offensive and Defensive Efficiencies – One Last Look

All is right in the numbers world. Almost. Temple, Xavier and Richmond sit at the top of the conference pecking order and their differentials confirm their standing. Dayton, St. Louis and Rhode Island are still tangled a bit, which could develop into an interesting story as the conference tournament plays out later this week. The won-loss records, confirmed by the gap in the efficiency differentials, suggest that the bottom four of Massachusetts, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and especially Fordham, were simply not competitive with the rest of the conference this season (of course with respect to Massachusetts, Rhode Island disagrees).

Final Conference Standings for 2009-10

  1. Temple (14-2, 26-5, #16 AP)
  2. Xavier (14-2, 23-7, #25 AP)
  3. Richmond (13-3, 22-7)
  4. St. Louis (11-5, 20-10)
  5. Charlotte (9-7, 19-11)
  6. Rhode Island (9-7, 21-8)
  7. Dayton (8-8 19-11)
  8. St. Bonaventure (7-9, 14-15)
  9. Duquesne (7-9, 16-14)
  10. George Washington (6-10, 16-13)
  11. Massachusetts (5-11, 11-19)
  12. Saint Joseph’s (5-11, 11-19)
  13. La Salle (4-12, 12-18)
  14. Fordham (0-16, 2-26)

Predictable?

Quirky early season schedules allowed George Washington and Massachusetts to sit atop the conference briefly, but as the season wore on, Xavier, Temple, Charlotte and Richmond took turns, either alone or in company of another, as the top ranked team of the conference. Temple and Xavier were supposed to take this season to rebuild. The Owls lost Dionte Christmas and the Musketeers lost their Coach, Sean Miller. Temple landed on the national radar when they beat Big 5 rival (and #3 at the time) Villanova in December. Xavier stumbled in the Old Spice, but recovered to join with Temple to cohabit with or shadow the two other teams that took long turns at the #1 spot through the 8.5 weeks of conference play. Temple’s 77-72 win over Xavier on January 20 settled the pecking order between those two (Temple would rank higher), but it was not clear until February 28 when Xavier defeated Richmond 78-76 in two overtimes, that those two would stand alone at the top at the end.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Conference Offensive and Defensive Efficiencies

The top half of the conference has separated clearly from the lower half, despite a number of upsets over the last two weeks. Temple, lurking in the ranking just below the top, emerged as the top team according to the offensive-defensive differential. The statistics apparently provide a numeric affirmation to the AP pollsters at last. It is reassuring to find that the eyeball test and the numbers agree, Dayton notwithstanding. George Washington appears to have joined Dayton as an unlucky team; Pythagoras (based on conference games only) projects a .500 record for the Colonials, a development that if true, should come as very bad news for the Owls (and good news for Xavier). Saint Joseph’s and Fordham have separated from the rest of the conference, settling at the bottom with rather large negative differentials. La Salle sports a record similar to Saint Joseph’s, but their differential suggests this may be more a case of bad luck, than bad defense. This is a good illustration of how the won-loss record tend to more accurately reflect the loss of seniors Ruben Guillandeaux and Kimmani Barrett than the differentials. The differentials are slow to reflect significant (and rapid) changes in personnel (among other game-influencing factors), a fact frequently overlooked. In La Salle’s case, Pomeroy, using a calculation which also relies on cumulative statistical data, continues to project the Explorers as winners in one of their two remaining games. To the observer this may seem to be unjustifiably optimistic, but the rumored collapse of morale on Hawk Hill may eventually make Pomeroy’s projection correct. Right record, wrong opponent.

The Last Week

The teams are down to their last one-to-two games before Atlantic City. The Richmond-Xavier game eliminated Richmond from contention for the #1 seed. Temple can take the #1 spot by winning out. Xavier will take the #2 seed (unless the Musketeers lose both of their remaining games), and Richmond should take the #3 seed (though if the Spiders stumble very badly their fall could scramble seeds #3 through #7). George Washington, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure are locked in a three-way tie for eighth place, but the head-to-head game between St. Bonaventure and Duquesne should drop the loser to the bottom of that cluster (unless Massachusetts puts on a closing rush). The winner is not, however, guaranteed the #8 seed. La Salle and Saint Joseph’s are also tied (for twelfth place), but their season-closing game should settle the seed, and other issues.

Standings (as of 03/02/2010)

  1. Temple (12-2, 24-5, #16 AP)
  2. Xavier (12-2, 21-7, #25 AP)
  3. Richmond (11-3, 22-7)
  4. St. Louis (10-4, 19-9)
  5. Charlotte (9-5, 19-9)
  6. Rhode Island (8-6, 20-7)
  7. Dayton (8-6, 19-9)
  8. George Washington (6-8, 16-11)
  9. Duquesne (6-8, 15-13)
  10. St. Bonaventure (6-8, 13-14)
  11. Massachusetts (4-10, 10-18)
  12. La Salle (3-11, 11-17)
  13. Saint Joseph’s (3-11, 9-19)
  14. Fordham (0-14, 2-14)

Team Rundowns

  • Charlotte.  February was a cruel month for Coach Lutz and the 49ers. They closed the books for the month going 3-4, and 1-4 in their last five games. They opened the month at the top of the conference and very much in the dicussion for an NCAA bid, but they have fallen to #5 in the conference and among Zach Hayes’ “Next Four Out”. Their last two games will not be easy, as both come against conference rivals who compete directly for seeds #3 through #6. First they travel to New England for a game at Rhode Island on Wednesday (3/3). The Rams, ranked #6 in the conference this week, are listed among the “Last Four Out”. The loser will most likely fall off the bubble. Their regular season final versus Richmond (currently #3 in conference standings) provides the 49ers with an opportunity to wreak a little havoc. Should Charlotte sweep both games they will find themselves in a two or three way tie for the #3 seed. Lose both and they will most likely draw the #7 seed.
  • Dayton.  The Flyers started the week with a big (but hardly unexpected) 49-41 loss at Temple. The low score hints at a defensive struggle, which indeed it was. The pace, about 60 for each team, is low for D1 (the average, per Ken Pomeroy, is 67.5), but certainly enough possessions had the teams played to their offensive ratings for a score in the mid-to-high 60s. The Flyers did manage 45 rebounds (against 41 points) and about 0.67 points per possession on offense. The rebounds were overwhelmingly defensive — the Flyers snagged 75% of Temple’s misses, but only 28% of their own. Dayton took their revenge on the Minutemen 96-68, on Saturday (2/27). Tied at sixth in conference with an 8-6 record, the Flyers have opportunities to improve their conference tournament seed and, listed as one of “The Last Four Out” by Zach Hayes (and among the #1 seeds by NIT-ology), to work their way back into the field of 65. Dayton travels to Richmond for a Thursday (3/4) game, then back to Dayton to close the season versus St. Louis. Both teams are higher in the conference pecking order, so a Flyer sweep could scramble the tournament seeds (#3 through #7) going into Atlantic City.
  • Duquesne.  Duquesne lost their only game last week, a 69-59 road loss to St. Louis, on Saturday (2/27). The Dukes are in a three-way tie with St. Bonaventure and George Washington, for the eighth seed in the conference tournament. Should they sweep their last two games, at rival St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (3/3) and a home closer against Fordham on Friday (3/5), Duquesne can square their conference record at eight, and secure the #8 seed in Atlantic City. Lose both, and the Dukes could fall to #10.
  • Fordham.  The Rams dropped their only game last week, and the prospects for a winless conference run loom larger. Ken Pomeroy’s projection moved up to 94%, and with a home game versus Xavier next, the road closer at Duquesne is most likely their last best chance.
  • George Washington.  The Colonials ran off two wins last week, an 81-72 win over a staggering La Salle squad, and 75-70 win that hurt Charlotte’s postseason prospects rather badly. At 6-8, George Washington is playing for seed, specifically #8, at the conference tournament. They have a harder road than Duquesne, but easier than St. Bonaventure, as they play Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (3/3) and Temple on the road Saturday (3/6).
  • La Salle.  The Explorers ran their losing streak to eight with losses last week to George Washington 81-72, on Wednesday (2/24) and Temple (for the second time) 65-53, on Sunday (2/28). They have two more games left before they head into Atlantic City (as either a #12 or #13 seed) and close the book on this season. They host Massachusetts on Wednesday (3/3), then close out their Big 5 series with a game at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday (3/6) in a game that will most likely decide the fourth place team in the Big 5 series and the #11 through #13 seeds in Atlantic City. Temple wins it outright this year with a 4-0 record. Villanova finishes second with a 3-1 record, while La Salle and Saint Josephs’s both have a 1-2 record going into their last game. Penn finishes last with an 0-4 record.  If the Explorers can salvage anything from this season, it may be a win over cross city rival Saint Joseph’s.
  • Massachusetts.  The Minutemen dropped their only game last week 96-68 on the road to Dayton. They finish out the regular season with a last road trip to Philadelphia on Wednesday (3/3) to take on La Salle, then return home to close the regular season against Rhode Island on Saturday (3/6). Lose to La Salle, and Massachusetts drops into an 11th-place tie with La Salle. Unfortunately for Massachusetts, they lose that particular tiebreaker. Though Rhode Island dropped a late season game to St. Bonaventure last week, the chances they drop a second late season upset is probably very small.
  • Rhode Island.  Their loss to St. Bonaventure 81-74 on Saturday (2/27) was unexpected and a case of very inconvenient timing. The Rams have little time and opportunity to “get that one back.” The Rams have two games left — a home game versus Charlotte on Wednesday (3/3) and a road closer in Amherst, MA, on Saturday (3/6). The Charlotte game has both conference tournament seed and postseason implications. Though both teams are considered, by consensus, out of the field of 65, the winner will most likely remain on the bubble, pending conference play and the state of the field at the end of next week.
  • Richmond.  The Spiders took a very tough road loss in Cincinnati on Sunday (2/28). Their game with Xavier went to two overtimes before they lost by two points, 78-76. The loss cost them not only the #1 seed in the conference tournament, but it also dropped them out of the AP’s Top 25 poll, Xavier moving into it in their stead. Coach Mooney’s squad has two more games, nearly as difficult, before Atlantic City. The first is a home game with Dayton on Thursday (3/4); the second is a road game at Halton Arena, with Charlotte, on Saturday (3/6). Should the Spiders sweep they will secure their spot in the conference tournament (and the NCAA’s field of 65), but also burst both Dayton’s and Charlotte’s bubbles.
  • Saint Joseph’s.  Saint Joseph’s losing streak has extended to five games with a road loss to Charlotte last Wednesday (2/24). The Hawks travel to DC to play George Washington on Wednesday (3/3), in a game they are expected (according to Ken Pomeroy) to lose. They close out regular season play by hosting La Salle in a game that will close out both school’s conference play and their Big 5 series play. Tied with La Salle, both in the conference (3-11) and in the City Series (1-2), the Saturday game will determine who gets the #12 (and #13) seed in Atlantic City and who finishes #3 (and #4) in the Philadelphia City Series.
  • St. Bonaventure.  The Bonnies sprung an upset on Rhode Island 81-74, on Saturday (2/27), extending their winning streak to three games, matching the longest winning streak of their 2010 season. Coach Schmidt’s squad reached their 2009 conference win total with two games in hand. Wednesday (3/3) they host Duquesne, probably their best opportunity for win number seven. A win over Duquesne would provide a temporary advantage for the #9 seed in the conference tournament, they close out the regular season with a road game in Cincinnati, versus Xavier, on Saturday (3/6).
  • St. Louis.  Coach Majerus’ team notched their only loss in February when they dropped a 73-71 decision to Xavier, on Wednesday (2/24). They closed February with a 7-1 record as they beat Duquesne 69-59, Saturday (2/27). St. Louis’ current record, 19-9, is a decided improvement over last season, but the Billikens will be hard pressed to notch win number 20 before Atlantic City, as they host Temple Wednesday (3/3), then take to the road to close the regular season at Dayton on Saturday (3/6).
  • Temple.  The Owls had a good week, beating Dayton 49-41, in a defensive tug-of-war, on Wednesday (2/24), then clinching the Big 5 title outright with a 4-0 record, by beating La Salle 65-53, on Sunday (2/28). The Owls moved up to #16 in the AP poll on Monday and, by consensus, is projected as a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament. Coach Dunphy’s squad has two more games in the conference regular season. They travel to St. Louis to play the Billikens on Wednesday (3/3), then return home to close out the season by hosting George Washington on Saturday (3/6). The Billikens will be a good test for Temple. The game will most likely be a defensive struggle, though not on the “rock fight” style of the Temple-Dayton game last week. A second consecutive 2-0 week would put Temple’s winning streak at seven, and give the Owls a 9-1 “Last Ten” record going into Atlantic City.
  • Xavier.  In a make-or-break week, the Musketeers and their rookie head coach came through with two close but necessary wins. They earned a #25 rank in the AP poll after beating a challenging St. Louis team 73-71, on the road Wednesday (2/24), and taking down the conference-leading Richmond Spiders 78-76, in a game that went into two overtimes, on Sunday (2/28). They have largely secured at least a #2 seed for Atlantic City, with the potential to move up should Temple stumble this week. With only a stricken Fordham squad on Wednesday (3/3) and a middle-of-the-pack St. Bonaventure team on Saturday (3/6) left on their schedule, Xavier, 9-1 in their last 10 games, is catching fire at the right time. They could sail into Atlantic City with a seven-game winning streak at their back.

Games to Catch

  • Charlotte at Rhode Island - Wednesday 3/3 — Each team has inside and outside scorers who drive their offense — Shamari Spears, DiJuan Harris and Derrio Green for Charlotte versus Delroy James, Lamonte Ulmer and Keith Cothran for Rhode Island. The “tie breaker” may well come down to their star freshmen, Akeem Richmond for Rhode Island and Chris Braswell for Charlotte. The 49ers and Rams took turns at the top of the conference back in January. The winner may be contention for the #4 seed and the last bye in the conference tournament and a place on the bubble for the NCAAs. The loser plays Tuesday night and gets the fast track to the NIT.
  • Temple at St. Louis - Wednesday 3/3 — Temple’s last big road test in the conference this season. The Owls have virtually clinched a #1 or #2 seed in the conference tournament next week, but winning this game would give them a strong leg up for the top spot. St. Louis has been tough in Chaifetz Arena, going 14-2 this season. The Billikens are off the radar for the NCAA Tournament, the product of a young team and inconsistent run through their out of conference schedule, but a win here would turn a few heads, and give them some momentum going into Dayton (on Saturday) and then to Atlantic City.
  • Dayton at Richmond – Thursday 3/4 — Dayton needs another good win to bolster their NCAA resume. Richmond, after a tough loss at Xavier on Sunday, needs a bounceback game to rebuild their momentum going into Atlantic City. The game will match two of the conference’s more deliberate (and efficient) offenses and best defenses. Dayton’s more athletic frontcourt could present some match-up problems for Richmond. On the other hand, which Flyer will draw Justin Harper as their defensive assignment?
  • St. Louis at DaytonSaturday 3/6 — Another weekend, and the conference-makers give Dayton another low possession, highly efficient offense to test the Flyers’ defense. If St. Louis comes in having taken a loss on Wednesday, while Dayton comes in having won on Thursday, a Dayton win would bring in the tie breaker rules to sort out seeds #4 and #5 (and maybe #6).
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Conference Offensive and Defensive Efficiencies

The efficiencies delineate the conference’s upper and lower division rather clearly…with one or two exceptions. Richmond, Temple and Xavier cluster clearly as top tier, consistent with, if not identical to, their conference records. Joining them as an outlier is Dayton, the team that entered the season with great expectations, but has fallen a bit short. St. Louis and Rhode Island form the next tier, with Charlotte next in line, but grouped with the lower division teams. Charlotte in particular is a paradox. The 49ers have had a number of very bad outings, particularly on the road (though in fairness they have had a good out of conference win on the road too). Charlotte has been a “better than average” team at home, but more a wimp than a warrior on the road. Among the lower division teams George Washington stands apart. The Colonials have, looking at all games this season, a surprisingly strong away efficiency differential, but a weaker than expected home differential. The differential suggests they should have a better record (by about 2 wins) than they do. Looking ahead, the Pythagorean winning percentage formula (conference games only) suggest the Colonials will sweep their remaining games. With closing games at Rhode Island and versus Richmond, I do not see a sweep as a likely outcome.

The Races Within the Race

The three-way (#1 & #2/#3 — Richmond and Temple/Xavier) race at the top of the conference represents only one of several heated standings races as the conference regular season enters it’s last two weeks. Rewards going to the winners of those mini-battles include seeds and pairings in Atlantic City, possible postseason invitations and for a few another opportunity or two to redeem irredeemable seasons. Just below the three leaders stand four teams battling it out for seeds #4 through #7. Theoretically St. Louis or Charlotte may be able to overcome one or more of the top tier teams, but their remaining schedules, loaded with fellow second tier opponents, makes those schedules seems less like a stepping stone and more like an elimination process. Charlotte has only one top tier team remaining, but must face an also hopeful Rhode Island team that would welcome every win it can gather at this point in the season. St. Louis still has Temple and Xavier to play, and as a bonus gets them both in the friendly confines of Chaifetz Arena. They also have to take to the road for their last game — Dayton, before heading out to Atlantic City. So the Billikens could hand another loss on both the Owls and the Musketeers, but still fall behind them by losing to Dayton. Should the Billikens lose either or both of those games, their season-closer in Dayton becomes even more important to both teams, as it could well be a battle that decides the #5, #6 and #7 seeds in the conference tournament. Fordham has largely lost contact with the rest of the conference, but George Washington, St. Bonaventure, Massachusetts and La Salle are all within a loss of each other in spots #8 through #11, with Saint Joseph’s just another loss (at 10) behind that cluster. Within that group only George Washington has a winning record, and an outside chance at a post season bid (NIT or CBI possibly). An inopportune losing would sink the Colonials. A late season surge by the Bonnies on the other hand, could put Coach Schmidt’s squad over the .500 mark, and lend promise to an otherwise very uneven season.

Standings as of – 02/23/10

  1. Richmond (11-2, 22-6 #24 AP)
  2. Temple (10-2, 22-5, #18 AP)
  3. Xavier (10-2, 19-7)
  4. St. Louis (9-3, 18-8)
  5. Charlotte (8-4, 18-8)
  6. Rhode Island (8-5, 20-6)
  7. Dayton (7-5, 18-8)
  8. Duquesne (6-7, 15-12)
  9. George Washington (4-8, 14-11)
  10. St. Bonaventure (4-8, 11-14)
  11. Massachusetts (4-9, 10-17)
  12. La Salle (3-9, 11-15)
  13. Saint Joseph’s (3-10, 9-18)
  14. Fordham (0-13, 2-23)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Charlotte lost two more games last week. The A10’s leader earlier this month has now dropped back to join Rhode Island and Dayton at the bottom of the upper division. The heretofore reliable Shamari Spears and Derrio Green have faltered, and with them, the 49ers’ fortunes. For the Dayton, Duquesne and Xavier games, the two players have taken 66%, 59% and 76% of the shots when they have been on the floor together. Having 40% of your rotation take 60% and more of your field goal attempts makes defense much easier. Having freshman Chris Braswell and junior An’Juan Wilderness (and virtually the rest of the squad as well) struggling offensively does not take the pressure to drive the offense off of Green and Spears. Rush the Court bracketologist Zach Hayes lists the 49ers among the last four out in his February 22 column.

If the turnaround is to happen for the 49ers, it will have to start this week. Charlotte will host Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (2/24) and travel to DC for a Saturday (2/27) game with George Washington. The homestretch includes games with Rhode Island and Richmond before taking off for Atlantic City and the conference tournament. Beating both the Hawks and Colonials will be necessary to stay ahead of Rhode Island, and keep Charlotte in position to move up should any of the top three (Richmond, Temple and Xavier) stumble at the end.

Dayton

The Flyers beat a crippled La Salle team Thursday (2/18) 68-54, but inexplicably dropped their road game with Duquesne 73-71, on Sunday (2/21). Three losses behind the conference leaders with four games to play means Coach Gregory’s team is nearly (mathematically) out of the race for the regular season conference title. They may still have games to play with Temple (Wednesday 2/24) and Richmond (Thursday 3/4), but at this point in the season, with their RPI drifting into the mid-high 40s, RTC’s Zach Hayes has them listed among the last four in with good reason.

Next up is Temple in Philadelphia on Wednesday (2/24) — a win would probably cinch their spot in the field of 65 — then a Saturday (2/27) home game with Massachusetts.

Duquesne

The Dukes decided to play spoiler last week, beating contenders Charlotte in Charlotte 83-77, on Wednesday (2/17), then returning to Pittsburgh to beat Dayton, 73-71 on Sunday (2/21). After a disappointing 2-5 in January, Coach Everhart’s squad has put together a 4-2 (and counting) February. The revival will not be enough to get them back into the postseason conversation, but they can force another squad or two to join them in an early off-season.

Duquesne has two road games this week. First stop is the also-hot St. Louis on Saturday (2/27), and then a trip to Olean, NY, for a tilt with St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (3/3).

Fordham

Two more games tallies to two more losses for Coach Grasso’s team. The Rams’ biggest challenge in the last four regular season games will be to find their first A10 win. The prognosis grows gloomier by the game; Pomeroy puts their probability of going winless at 78.5% as of Tuesday (2/23). Fordham’s last best chance comes quickly — St. Bonaventure, at Rose Hill, on Wednesday (2/24).

George Washington

The Colonials beat Massachusetts in DC 66-60 on Wednesday (2/17), but dropped their road game in a 74-70 squeaker, to Richmond on Saturday (2/20). GW is one loss out of a three-way tie for ninth place. With hope for life after Atlantic City largely reduced to the NIT (or CBI?), Coach Hobbs has to, in the back of his mind perhaps, look to what experience the underclassmen can get as preparation for next season. Freshman Lasan Kromah, co-winner of his third Rookie of the Week citation, has to be in the conversation for Rookie of the Year honors. Several sophomores have shown potential as well, so the nucleus may be in place for an upward move in 2011.

George Washington will host La Salle on Wednesday (2/24), and Charlotte on Saturday (2/27).

La Salle

Another week through which the crippled Explorers have to pass to get to the end of the season. The good news is no additions to the injured list. The bad news was two more losses.

Next up for the Explorers is a trip to DC and a game with George Washington on Wednesday (2/24) and home to host Temple in their Big 5 game on Sunday (2/21). The preseason expectation for the Temple-La Salle match was that this game would be an excellent game with which to close the City Series this season. La Salle’s casualty list has deferred the exciting matchup for another season perhaps.

Massachusetts

The Minutemen dropped two games last week, a 66-60 loss in DC to George Washington last Wednesday (2/17) and a 69-56 loss to St. Louis last Sunday (2/21). Coach Kellogg’s squad will travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers Saturday (2/27), then head into their last full week of play against La Salle and Rhode Island.

Rhode Island

Freshman Akeem Richmond shared Rookie of the Week honors (the second time he has been named) for averaging 19 points in the two games Rhode Island played last week. Unfortunately, the Rams finished the week 1-1, rather than 2-0. The loss, 62-57 to St. Louis last Wednesday (2/17), extended their losing streak to three. Their weekend 101-75 win over Fordham last Saturday (2/20).

Rhode Island travels to St. Bonaventure for a game Saturday (2/27) before taking on Charlotte and Massachusetts to close out the season.

Richmond

The Spiders moved up to #24 in the AP Top 25 this past Monday, as Coach Mooney’s squad continues to jockey with Temple and Xavier for top ranking in the conference. Richmond holds a half-game advantage by virtue of an additional win, but that should even out as the others complete their schedule. Adding to the honors, junior guard Kevin Anderson was recognized as co-player of the week for the second time. The announcement cited his 19-point effort against Fordham and his 24-point night against George Washington. Richmond’s efficiency differential has them ranked #3 in the conference, largely on their offense. The Spiders’ weakness is offensive rebounding, a statistic which suggests they have rebounded only 24% of their misses, the lowest rebounding margin in conference play. The lack of board presence (they are ranked #11 for defensive rebounding percentage, slightly better than their #16 ranking for ORebs) is a common feature in teams that employ perimeter-oriented offenses like the Princeton Offense favored by Coach Mooney. RTC bracketologist Zach Hayes moved Richmond up to a #6 seed, assigned to the Salt Lake City Region, in his February 22 column.

Richmond gets back to business this week with a game at Xavier on Sunday (2/28) and a last home game with Dayton on Thursday (3/4).

Saint Joseph’s

Saint Joseph’s losing streak has extended to four games with a two-loss week. The Hawks suffered a 38 point beating, 88-52, at the hands of Xavier in Cincinnati last Wednesday (2/17), and an overtime loss in their Big 5 game with Temple 75-67, on Saturday (2/20). For the Hawks and Coach Martelli, the opponent may well have become despair, rather than Big 5 or A10 opponents. Rumors on Hawk Hill have freshman guard Carl Jones mulling a transfer to USC in the off season. Jones, the brightest light in the 2010 entering class for Saint Joseph’s, would be the third guard in the last three seasons to transfer after his freshmen year.

The Hawks travel to Charlotte for a game Wednesday (2/24), then to DC for their last conference road game this season next Wednesday (3/3) with George Washington.

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies lost to Temple 73-55, last Wednesday (2/17), but beat a staggering La Salle squad 77-66, on Sunday (2/21). The road win was promising, as the Bonnies have found the road not very kind at all this season. They have to run the table to level their conference record at 8-8, but a road game with Fordham on Wednesday (2/24) should, if all goes well, go down as their second consecutive road win, a promising sign going into Atlantic City (and next season). They return home to host Rhode Island, a one-time conference leader whose February record so far is a disappointing 3-3, on Saturday (2/27). Four wins in hand with a good chance for number five coming against Fordham leaves the Bonnies with three opportunities to notch number six, and match last season’s conference win total, and a possible ninth place finish.

St. Louis

Coach Majerus’ team beat Rhode Island 62-57, on Wednesday (2/17), which put another loss between Billikens and the Rams in conference play. Every loss (and win) counts. They ran their February winning streak to six on Sunday (2/21) with a road win, 69-56, at Massachusetts. Two more February games, Wednesday (2/24) they host top tiered Xavier and Saturday (2/27) they host and close out their mirror series with Duquesne. Winning both may well put St. Louis into the NCAA conversation, as Xavier would be a quality win. They are not on anyone’s radar at this point. St. Louis is 18-8 right now, even finishing the conference with a 2-2 run would give them 20 wins, an 11-5 conference record (along with, most likely, a four seed in the A10 Tournament) and life beyond Atlantic City (if not the NCAA, then the NIT or CBI). Given their ninth place, 18-14, 8-8 finish last season, this would be progress.

Temple

The Owls won both of their games last week pushing their conference record to 10-2 and keeping pace (in the loss column) with Richmond. They moved up to #21 in the AP poll, and continue to be listed as “in” Wednesday (2/17) they beat St. Bonaventure, 73-55, and then crossed town on Saturday (2/20) to Saint Joseph’s 75-67, and take their Big 5-designated game in overtime.

Coach Dunphy’s team will host Dayton on Wednesday (2/24) and close out their Big 5 series with a home game against La Salle on Sunday (2/28). Should the Owls beat the Explorers they would take their first outright Big 5 title in 14 seasons. Temple shared the title with Villanova in 2008 and 2005.

Xavier

The Musketeers jumped to the top of the efficiency differential with two strong, double digit wins last week. They beat Saint Joseph’s by 26 points 88-52, on Wednesday (2/17) and Charlotte by 14 points 81-67, on Saturday (2/20).

Xavier travels to St. Louis for an important game with St. Louis on Wednesday (2/24), then back to Cincinnati for a Sunday (2/28) game with rival Richmond. The Musketeers can finish either second (if they win) or third (if they lose).

Games to Catch

  • Xavier at St. Louis – Wednesday 2/24 — The Billikens are challenging for one of the top three seeds at the A10 Tournament and some consideration for the NCAAs. The Musketeers have to win to keep pace with Richmond in the loss column, and keep their fate in their hands.
  • Richmond at Xavier - Sunday 2/28 — Should Richmond win, the Spiders take the conference regular season title and the #1 seed in the A10 Tournament and Xavier comes in third. Should Xavier win, the Musketeers will finish second in the conference and take the #2 seed in the A10 Tournament, while the Spiders most likely finish third.
  • Charlotte at Rhode Island - Wednesday 3/3 — This is a match between two NCAA bubble teams, in the A10’s in conference version of Bracket Buster Wednesday.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Funky February

Maybe it is the weather, one of the more snow-filled winters in the last decade. Maybe it is the point in the season when teams that are good just exhale for a game or two, and teams that were supposed to be good take a hard look in the mirror and realize that something has to happen right now if their season is going to head somewhere other than the waste pile. If the conference is separating the top from the bottom, the top is getting crazy…

Dayton delivered their second consecutive take-down of a conference leader when they hammered the Charlotte 49ers 75-47, on Wednesday (2/10) night. Richmond spared the conference the conundrum of a five-way tie with barely a month left to the conference season when they dispatched Rhode Island (on the Rams’ home court no less), 69-67, earlier in the evening. Thursday dawned with four teams sporting (only) two conference losses, although technically Temple, with only seven wins, was not in a true tie with their three conference mates, Charlotte, Richmond and Xavier. Three more teams, Dayton, Rhode Island and St. Louis are just one loss behind the four leaders. Fully one-half of the conference is within striking distance of the conference title, and St. Louis excepted (maybe…), six appear regularly in postseason bracketology discussions. While it is remote — at best — to think all six will go to the NCAAs, I have begun to believe my projection of three teams was too light. The next two weeks will separate one or two teams from the top of the conference going into the A10’s postseason tournament.

Standings (as of 02/16/10)

  1. Richmond (9-2, 20-6 #25 AP)
  2. Temple (8-2, 2-05, #21 AP)
  3. Xavier (8-2, 17-7)
  4. Charlotte (8-2, 18-6)
  5. St. Louis (7-3, 16-8)
  6. Rhode Island (7-4, 19-5)
  7. Dayton (6-4, 17-7)
  8. Duquesne (4-7, 13-12)
  9. Massachusetts (4-7, 10-15)
  10. George Washington (3-7, 13-10)
  11. La Salle (3-7, 11-13)
  12. St. Bonaventure (3-7, 10-13)
  13. Saint Joseph’s (3-8, 9-16)
  14. Fordham (0-11, 2-21)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

The 49ers have had their problems on the road this season, starting with the 101-59 drubbing they took in Cameron Indoor Stadium in their second game. After a nice seven-game winning streak through Christmas, Old Dominion rung their bell with a 30+ point beating. The Tennessee Volunteers booted them out of Knoxville with a 17 point loss and XU showed them the door with a 12-point loss in mid January. The 75-47 drubbing they took at the hands of Dayton on Wednesday (2/10), coming so close to the end of the season, might be the most damaging. The game was played at Dayton’s preferred pace (about 65 possessions), and Charlotte shot an abysmal 27% eFG% as Coach Lutz emptied his bench, running 14 players through the game to find someone who could hit a bucket.

The 49ers have had a week to think about that disaster, and will swing back into action Wednesday (2/17) as they host struggling Duquesne, followed by a Saturday (1/20) visit from Xavier.

Dayton

Dayton took care of Charlotte in resounding fashion, 75-47, on Wednesday (2/10). Having beaten both Xavier and Charlotte during their home stand, the Flyers seemed to have their season back on track. Against Charlotte, Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson stepped up to provide very efficient scoring, logging eFGs of 80% and 69% respectively while taking at least 30% of the shots when they were on the floor. Chris Johnson also had an efficient (if less prolific) night, logging an eFG% of 79% while taking about 18% of the available shots when he was on the floor. Their offense back on track, the Flyers took to the road and dropped their Saturday (2/13) game to St. Louis, 68-65. Small consolation that it took the Billikens two overtime periods to subdue the Flyers. And it is back into the middle of the pack for Dayton. The Flyers continue to lead the conference in efficiency differential (see table above), but that efficiency is not consistently translating into wins. Coach Gregory’s squad may be the unluckiest in the conference, but that will not win them any awards (or get them a postseason NCAA bid). They need victories, the kind that show up in the win column. They are one of the strongest teams in the country in rebounding, but they turn the ball over too much (ranked according to Ken Pomeroy at #219 in D1) and foul too much (ranked #268). Both of those deficiencies will kill a team in a close game.

The Flyers host La Salle Thursday (2/18) then travel to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne on Sunday (2/21). Both are should-wins for Dayton, as are their two remaining home games after this week. If Dayton is to make a run at the top of the conference (and back into the NCAA conversation), they need to take one (or both) of their road games the following week, at Temple (2/24) and Richmond (3/04). Their four good (RPI) wins will carry weight with the Selection Committee, but finishing #7 in the conference (where they currently stand) will only guarantee them a poor drawing in the A10’s Atlantic City tournament.

Duquesne

The Dukes are down to a run in Atlantic City to pull out their season. More realistically, Coach Everhart might want to look to next season and where he will find a replacement for senior Damian Saunders. Duquesne dropped an overtime game, 84-80, to Massachusetts last Thursday (2/11), then trounced a crippled La Salle team, 103-82, on Sunday (2/14). Duquesne’s defense is (according to Ken Pomeroy) comparable to a number of tournament-bound teams. Duquesne’s offense, however, will keep the Dukes out of postseason play. And the most glaring part of their offense is scoring from beyond the arc, where their accuracy (3FG% 26%…no that’s not a typo) has them ranked #347 (dead last) in Division 1. Three of the Dukes’ four most prolific three-point shooters have accuracies of less than 26%. And the fourth (senior Jason Duty) hits at a 33% rate. It might be time to give sophomore BJ Montiero more playing time and exposure to big game situations.

Duquesne ventures into Halton Arena Wednesday (2/17) for a game with Charlotte, then returns home to host Dayton on Sunday (2/21).

Fordham

The Rams dropped a road game, 72-61, to St. Bonaventure last Wednesday (2/10) followed by a 25-point home loss to Massachusetts (78-53) on Saturday (2/13). Ken Pomeroy now pegs the probability for a winless conference season at 76%. While there is a very small probability that Fordham will break their run next week — road games with Richmond Wednesday (2/17) and Rhode Island Saturday (2/20) — an upset would definitely, given Fordham’s #299 RPI, damage either Richmond’s or Rhode Island’s postseason prospects. Better opportunities lie ahead, with games against St. Bonaventure on the 24th and Duquesne on March 6.

George Washington

In a season with more than a few disappointments, getting some recognition for your players, like having Dwayne Smith named Rookie of the Week (cited for scoring a season-high 15 points in 15 minutes of play against Fordham), is one of those pleasures left in the season. They may have a good run in the conference tournament, but short of running the table, a postseason beyond Atlantic City is off the table. Coach Hobbs will lose Damian Hollis, a senior, but should have Lasan Kromah (another freshman who earned Rookie of the Week honors this season) and the next five scorers back next season, and hopefully they will be a year better. The Colonials maintained a better than average defense in conference play. Lack of a consistent offense has been their downfall.

George Washington will host Massachusetts on Wednesday (2/17), and travel to Richmond to close out their mirror series with the Spiders on Saturday (2/20).

La Salle

Another week, another bite out of the rotation. The 2010 season, projected as the season that would see the Explorers return to postseason play (NCAA or NIT) has become instead a Trail of Tears, as senior Yves Mekongo Mbala broke a finger in his shooting hand during practice on 2/8, and had surgery to repair it on 2/12. While the doctors predict a two-to-four week convalescence, anyone with a calendar handy can see that, at best, Mbala might be back for the A10 Tournament, and at worst has effectively ended his career at La Salle. Mekongo Mbala joins fellow seniors Kimmani Barrett and Ruben Guillandeaux on La Salle’s bench. At 3-7 and 11-13 overall, without a huge and unexpected turnaround, La Salle is going home after Atlantic City. The loss of the seniors has been devastating for the Explorers’ prospects this season, but those injuries have forced a few underclassmen to play more active roles this season. That should pay dividends in the seasons to come.

Next up for the Explorers is a trip to Ohio and a game with Dayton on Thursday (2/18) and home to host St. Bonaventure on Sunday (2/21).

Massachusetts

Ricky Harris shared Player of the Week honors for his 29 points in the Minutemen’s 84-80 overtime win over Duquesne. He also had a season-high six assists. UMass took two games last week, the aforementioned overtime win at Duquesne on Wednesday (2/10) and their home win over Saint Joseph’s 70-62, on Sunday (2/14). The Duquesne game broke a three-game losing streak, a recurring pattern for the Minutemen this season — two-to-five losses interrupted by one or two wins. Massachusetts has been able to beat every conference team ranked below them this season. What they do not have is a win against an opponent ranked above them in the conference standings. Their games this week, on Wednesday (2/17) at George Washington and Sunday (2/21) when they host St. Louis should settle the question of whether Coach Kellogg’s squad is turning their season around, or having a Funky February moment.

Rhode Island

The Rams had a terrible week. They went into last Wednesday’s (2/10) game with Richmond (a 69-67 loss) as a third of a cluster of teams just out of first place. They finished the week in sixth place, having dropped a 78-56 road game to Temple, one-half game ahead of seventh place Dayton. The Ram woes come on the defensive side of the basketball, the culprits a combination of shot defense (they are an equal opportunity provider, ranked #279th for two point defense and #296th for three point defense (out of 347 D1 teams) and defensive rebounding (ranked per Ken Pomeroy #303).

Their Wednesday (2/17) game at St. Louis should be interesting test of weakness versus weakness. The Billikens are offensive-challenged (ranked at #232 by Pomeroy) and rely on defense to prevail. St. Louis is an “average” shooting team that does not rebound their misses. The Billikens are 7-3 in the conference standings, so this Rhode Island can help itself immediately with a win. Their weekend game is Sunday (2/21) at Massachusetts.

Richmond

The Spiders leapfrogged Xavier and Charlotte to land in the AP Top 25 in the last slot this past Monday. This marks the first time since 1986 a Spider squad has been recognized by the polls. Coach Mooney’s squad extended their winning streak to six with a tough road win over Rhode Island, 69-67, on Wednesday (2/10) and a 68-49 win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday (2/13). Richmond is clustered with Temple, Xavier and Charlotte with two conference losses, but holds the half-game advantage by virtue of an additional win. Richmond is doing it on both sides of the ball. The Spiders are ranked #4 in conference games for offense, and #3 in confernce games for defense. Bracketologists from Joe Lunardi to RTC’s own Zach Hayes put Richmond in the field of 65 as a #7 seed.

Richmond hits one last breather in their schedule this week, a two-game home stand that includes Fordham on Wednesday (2/17) and George Washington on Saturday (2/20), before they play three fellow contenders (Xavier, Dayton and Charlotte) for an end of the season Trial by Fire.

St. Joseph’s

Coach Martelli’s young squad found no love in Amherst, Massachusetts, on Valentine’s Day. The Hawks dropped a 70-62 decision to the Minutemen. At 3-8 in conference and out of any postseason discussions beyond Atlantic City, the Hawks can still fight for some Big 5 respect. With two City Series games left (versus Temple and La Salle), the Hawks can knot those standings with two wins. After a road trip to Xavier Wednesday (2/17), they play Temple Saturday (2/20).

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies beat Fordham 72-61, last Wednesday (2/10), but dropped a home game to Richmond 68-49, on Saturday (2/13). The season is not going as many Bonnies fans anticipated. At this point, improving their standings over 2009 (they finished #11) is a practical, if less ambitious goal. They will not get to 8-8 in conference play, but they might find three, possibly four more wins among the six games remaining. The home stretch starts this week as they host Temple Wednesday (2/17), and then travel to Philadelphia to play La Salle squad on Sunday (2/21). Temple is a stretch, but the Explorers are a wounded team right now, lacking three senior leaders.

St. Louis

Coach Majerus’ team personafies Funky February. Their January 30 game with Richmond was a hint of crazy stuff to come. As noted by Ken Pomeroy in his 2/01 blog entry, not only did the Billikens score less than 40 points in the game (no more than 20 in either period), but all of their points came from twos, probably the only D1 game of this type played this season. St. Louis scored no points from either beyond the arc or from the charity stripe. The offensively-challenged Billikens have quietly worked themselves into conference contention with a four-game winning streak that started with the game after their loss to Richmond. February has been perfect so far for St. Louis. They host Rhode Island on Wednesday (2/17) in a game that is significant for both, followed by a Sunday (2/21) road game with Massachusetts. St. Louis is 3-5 in road games this season, their wins coming over Duquesne, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. They have taken conference road losses against Charlotte, George Washington and Richmond. Where does Massachusetts fit? And more importantly, where does St. Louis fit?

Temple

The Owls won their only game last week against Rhode Island, 78-56. Temple has two road games coming. On Wednesday (2/17) they go to Olean, NY, to play St. Bonaventure, and then across town on Saturday (2/20) to play their Big 5 designated game against Saint Joseph’s.

Xavier

Jason Love shared Player of the Week honors for his 20/10 performance in 22 minutes in Xavier’s 76-64 win over Florida. Florida may not be a tournament team this postseason (Coach Donovan has had a rough three years since winning two consecutive National Championships), but the win, coming on the road, should be, as ESPN’s Bubble Watcher Mark Shlabach noted, “catch the attention of the NCAA selection committee. It also gives them a nice nonconference win to go with four home victories over RPI top-50 opponents.” The Musketeers return to conference play on Wednesday (2/17) by hosting Saint Joseph’s, then travel to Charlotte for an important game with the 49ers on Saturday (2/20).

Games to Catch

  • Rhode Island at St. Louis Wednesday 2/17 — A matchup between the #5 and #6 ranked teams. Rhode Island is ranked #3 in conference games for offense, while St. Louis is ranked #2 in conference games for defense. St. Louis has three losses, while Rhode Island has four. The standings will either stratify a bit more, or there will be two clusters at the top of the conference — one with two losses, the other with four.
  • Xavier at Charlotte Saturday 2/20 — Another opportunity to sort out the top of the conference as the Musketeers enter Halton Arena to play the 49ers. Both teams are well stocked with guards — DiJuan Harris and Derrio Green will take the measure of Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway, but the game may come down to how well slightly undersized but athletic wing/forwards Shamari Spears and (freshman) Chris Braswell handle Jason Love and Jamel McLean. 
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