Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Net efficiencies through Monday of this week (2/21/2011) continue to show Duquesne ranked #2 in the conference. Though Duquesne dropped to fourth place in the conference standings after their loss to Xavier the Sunday before last, The Dukes lost a third conference game, this time to Dayton, last weekend. While they have dominated enough games to maintain their spot just below Xavier, but the gap between Duquesne and Xavier widens as the Dukes fall back towards Temple and Richmond. Temple and Richmond maintained positive net efficiencies and were joined this week by a revitalized Dayton squad.
An oddity noted last week, the inbalance between teams whose net efficiencies were positive (four last week, five this week) and those whose net efficiencies are negative (10 last week, nine this week) continues. The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has narrowed, which may not be a good thing when looking at postseason prospects. Consensus bracketology has the conference with two “solid ins” right now (Xavier and Temple), with Duquesne and Richmond “with work to do” on the bubble (Richmond appears to be in a slightly better position than Duquesne).
The top team is Xavier. The Muskies settled it on the floor of the Consol Arena Sunday with a comfortable win over Durquesne. Duquesne dropped to #4 in the conference “record rankings.” Oddly the bottom spot was also settled on the court, also on Sunday and also with the host taking the loss. Saint Joseph’s will now battle with Charlotte for the last spot in the first round of the A-10 Conference Tournament. Rhode Island also had a good week, while Dayton did not. And those developments are also reflected in the conference rankings and this week’s power rankings.
1. Xavier (21-6, 12-1)
Last Week: 2/16 @Saint Joseph’s 74-54, 2/19 vs. Fordham 79-72, 2/22 La Salle 100-62
Next Week: 2/27 @Dayton
Xavier continues to roll, downing down-and-out Saint Joseph’s and Fordham, then La Salle. Coach Chris Mack‘s squad has one last bridge to cross, Dayton next Sunday, then two more “should wins” late next week. A Dayton win should seal the #1 seed in the conference tournament next month.
2. Temple (21-5, 11-2)
Last Week: 2/16 vs. Richmond 73-53, 2/19 vs. Saint Joseph’s 66-52
Next Week: 2/23 @Duke, 2/26 @George Washington
A convincing win over closest (seed) rival Richmond highlighted a 2-0 week for the Owls. Low light is the season-ending injury to junior center Michael Eric. Eric’s absence from the rotation did not create a problem for the Owls as they handled the frontcourt-challenged Spiders by 20, nor against the very inexperienced (and mercurial) Hawks. Going forward, particularly in the conference tournament and beyond, however is another story. Temple has a late non-conference game as they travel to Durham, North Carolina, to face Duke. This should be a good benchmark game for Owl fans. Going toe-to-toe with the ACC powerhouse should bode well for Temple’s NCAA prospects.
3. Duquesne (17-8, 9-3)
Last Week: 2/16 @Massachusetts 81-63, 2/19 @Dayton 63-64
Next Week: 2/23 vs. Rhode Island, 2/26 @St. Louis
The Dukes logged their third consecutive 1-1 week, which this time dropped them back to #4 in the conference standings, though they maintain their #2 spot in the conference net efficiency (see table above). Their loss to Dayton helped the Flyers, but probably damaged the Dukes’ post season NCAA prospects. Coach Ron Everhart‘s squad hosts the Runnin’ Rams on Wednesday, then take to the road a game in St. Louis this weekend. Another 1-1 week would be fatal to any NCAA hopes (short of running the table in Atlantic City).
4. Richmond (20-6, 9-2)
Last Week: 2/16 @Temple 53-73, 2/19 vs. St. Bonaventure 82-65
Next Week: 2/26 @Charlotte
Richmond lost ground to Temple in the race for the #2 seed in Atlantic City, and took out their frustrations on St. Bonaventure. Coach Chris Mooney‘s squad has light duty this week, a trip to Charlotte and a game with the 49ers on Saturday is all they have before finishing out the season with two last conference games.
5. Dayton (19-9, 7-6)
Last Week: 2/16 @Charlotte 69-51, 2/19 vs. Duquesne 64-63
Next Week: 2/27 vs. Xavier
Dayton halted their downward drift in the conference standings with a 2-0 week. Their win over Duquesne, good for conference standings, may be a case of too little too late. Should they follow it with a win over Xavier next Sunday, they will have 20 wins and might revive hopes to make the bubble. The Musketeers are the only opponent on the schedule next week, they should draw the Flyers’ full attention.
6. Rhode Island (16-10, 7-5)
Last Week: 2/19 vs. Massachusetts 60-66
Next Week: 2/23 @Duquesne, 2/26 @Fordham
Rhode Island’s loss to struggling Massachusetts is a good microcosm of the season. Good showings (a six-point loss at Pittsburgh, win over Richmond) are too often followed by letdowns (loss to Quinnipiac, loss to La Salle). Rhode Island has lost both games with conference rival Massachusetts, a team that will most likely finish play below 0.500 will not be a brightspot on the team’s post season resume. The Runnin’ Rams take to the road for two games this week. First stop is Pittsburgh (again) for a game with Duquesne, followed by a stopover in New York City and a game at Fordham. A sweep would keep them ahead of George Washington for the #5 seed in the conference tournament.
7. George Washington (14-12, 7-5)
Last Week: 2/19 @La Salle 82-80
Next Week: 2/23 vs. Charlotte, 2/26 vs. Temple
The Colonials beat fading La Salle on Saturday and host two teams this week — Charlotte on Wednesday, followed by Temple Saturday. If Coach Karl Hobbs’ squad follows form, this should be a 1-1 week. They will need at least 1-1 to keep pace with Rhode Island.
8. St. Bonaventure (14-11, 6-6)
Last Week: 2/16 vs. St. Louis 83-73, 2/20 @Richmond 65-82
Next Week: 2/23 vs. Fordham, 2/26 @Saint Joseph’s
Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies beat St. Louis by 10, then dropped a 17 point decision in Richmond. Next week provides a great opportunity to collect two more wins in conference play as the Bonnies host winless Fordham on Wednesday, then travel to Philadelphia for a game with Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. A 2-0 week would seal a winning season, their first since 2001-02, for St. Bonaventure.
9. Massachusetts (14-11, 6-6)
Last Week: 2/16 vs. Duquesne 63-81, 2/19 @Rhode Island 66-60
Next Week: 2/23 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 2/27 @La Salle
The Minutemen posted a 1-1 week, dropping an 18-point decision to Duquesne, but leveling the weekly record complements of regional rival Rhode Island. Coach Derek Kellogg‘s troops looks at two “should win” games this week in the form of Saint Joseph’s and La Salle. La Salle is a road game, traditionally a problem for Massachusetts — they sport a net efficiency of -0.071 in road games this season.
10. La Salle (12-16, 4-9)
Last Week: 2/19 vs. George Washington 80-82, 2/22 @Xavier 62-100
Next Week: 2/27 vs. Massachusetts
The Explorers logged another 0-2 week, their third 0-2 week in conference play this season. The current losing streak stands at three games. There will be no closing rush to the upper division this season. Playing out the string, Dr. Giannini will no doubt review the current roster to see who he can build a team around next season. Will the Explorers’ game with UMass on Sunday be the first day of 2012 tryouts?
11. Saint Louis (10-17, 4-9)
Last Week: 2/16 @St. Bonaventure 73-83, 2/19 vs. Charlotte 61-56, 2/22 vs. Chicago State 90-52
Next Week: 2/26 vs. Duquesne
The Billikens posted a 2-1 week, starting with a loss to St. Bonaventure and followed with back-to-back wins against conference mate Charlotte and Horizon League member Chicago State. Their Saturday game with Duquesne should be an interesting contrast in styles. The Billikens are a low possession (their 63.7 average possessions per game is ranked #12 in the conference), defense-first team, while Duquesne is a high possession (70.9, #1 in conference play) three point shooting team. If Duquesne is hot from the perimeter, this could be really ugly.
12. Charlotte (10-16, 2-10)
Last Week: 2/16 vs. Dayton 51-69, 2/19 @St. Louis 56-61
Next Week: 2/23 @George Washington, 2/26 vs. Richmond
Charlotte logged a 0-2 week and extended their losing streak to four. Coach Alan Major‘s squad travels to Washington for a game with the Colonials, then returns home for a Saturday game against Richmond. This could be losing week #3, with their streak running to six.
13. Saint Joseph‘s (7-19, 1-10)
Last Week: 2/16 vs. Xavier 54-74, 2/20 @Temple 52-66
Next Week: 2/23 @Massachusetts, 2/26 vs. St. Bonaventure
The Hawks dropped two more this week, this time to conference leaders Xavier and Temple. On target for a second consecutive 20 loss season, Temple students arranged a funeral for Saint Joseph’s team mascot, the Hawk (“The Hawk will never die”). The Hawks travel to Massachusetts, a team they have beaten already this season, and they host St. Bonaventure, a middling team, thus, theoretically it may be possible to stave off their 20th loss this season for another week. Possible, but not probable.
14. Fordham (6-18, 0-12)
Last Week: 2/16 @Xavier 72-79
Next Week: 2/23 @St. Bonaventure, 2/26 vs. Rhode Island
Fordham’s winless string runs to 12 in conference play, with an 0-1 week. Losing by seven to the conference leader on their home court may count as a moral victory, but it changes nothing in the won-loss column. The probabililties that they will finish the conference season without a win dropped to 38.8%, per Ken Pomeroy, complements of their close game against Xavier. Their road game to Olean (St. Bonaventure) and hosting Rhode Island will not be the place to break their winless run.
A Look Ahad
The week offers a single headliner game, Temple at Duke on Wednesday night. Temple and Duke are both in the NCAAs, Duke looks good for a #1 seed right now, so an Owl win would definitely boost Temple’s standing within the field. Winning at Cameron however is tough. Keeping it close at Cameron is tough too, but if the Owls can give the Blue Devils a competitive game, the Selection Committee will no doubt take notice.
The Rhode Island-Duquesne game scheduled for Wednesday as well could, should Rhode Island win, put the #4 seed for next month’s conference tournament up for grabs. Duquesne is tied in the loss column with Richmond, and their game on March 5 could be the sorting out game for the #3 and #4 seeds. A loss to Rhode Island would drop the Dukes a loss behind Richmond, and leave the Spiders in control for the #3 seed. Duquesne in turn could find itself in a cat fight to hold onto the #4 seed.