Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Preview

When/Where: March 3-6 (Richmond, Va.); March 14 (Dayton, Ohio)


Wednesday, 3/3 – First Round

(13) Saint Joseph's vs (12) La Salle – 11:00 a.m. on ESPN+

(14) Fordham vs (11) George Washington – 2:00 p.m. on ESPN+


Thursday, 3/4 – First Round

(9) Duquesne vs (8) Richmond – 11:00 a.m. on NBCSN

(12/13) TBD vs (5) Massachusetts – 1:00 p.m. on NBCSN

(10) Rhode Island vs (7) Dayton – 3:30 p.m. on NBCSN

(11/14) TBD vs (6) George Mason – 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN


Friday, 3/5 – Second Round

(8/9) TBD vs (1) St. Bonaventure – 11:00 a.m. on NBCSN

(5/12/13) TBD vs (4) Saint Louis – 1:00 p.m. on NBCSN

(7/10) TBD vs (2) VCU – 3:30 p.m. on NBCSN

(6/11/14) TBD vs (3) Davidson – 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN


Favorites


St. Bonaventure Bonnies (13-4, 11-4 Atlantic 10)

· CBS Sports Insider Jon Rothstein often alludes to Mark Schmidt as “Doing More With Less,” and perhaps new meaning has been brought to that phrase this season. After a lengthy COVID problem kept Schmidt’s team sidelined until Dec. 15, the Bonnies only got to play in two non-conference contests (wins over Akron, Hofstra). They’ve also steamrolled through conference play, having lost just two times since the calendar turned to 2021. The Bonnies clinched the A10 regular-season title just after a 46-point dismantling of George Washington on Feb. 26. Entering their final-regular season contest vs Dayton on March 1, St. Bonaventure has seen a dynamic duo of Kyle Lofton and Jaren Holmes both average nearly 15 points/game. They can also rely on big-man Osun Osunniyi, who entered the Dayton game averaging 10 points/game and 8.9 rebounds/game. The Bonnies are cooking at just the right time, and are as dangerous any mid-major team in the country.


VCU Rams (17-6, 10-4 Atlantic 10)

· Consistent success has become the norm in Richmond. Since 2011, the Rams have appeared in all but one NCAA Tournament (2018), and that trend is unlikely to change this year. VCU is battle-tested, having earned high-caliber wins over Utah State and Memphis in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, while also gaining good experience against marquee competition such as West Virginia and Penn State. Despite losing big-man Marcus Santos-Silva to Texas Tech via transfer, the Rams can depend on Vince Williams Jr. – averaging 28.9 minutes/game and 5.2 rebounds/game – down low. Nah’Shon Hyland leads the way for Mike Rhoades’ squad with 19.2 points/game. While the Rams did finish one seed below the Bonnies (despite having split two regular-season meetings), VCU is just as capable of doing damage as St. Bonaventure. Despite limited attendance, it’ll also help that the majority of the tournament will be played in VCU’s home city. Don’t be surprised to see the Rams and Bonnies battling for the tournament title on March 14 at UD Arena in Dayton.


Dark-Horse


Saint Louis Billikens (13-5, 6-4 Atlantic 10)

· Don’t sleep on Travis Ford’s squad. After marquee non-conference wins over LSU and NC State and a close battle at Minnesota, the Billikens were absent from competition for over a month due to COVID issues. Since a return to the court on Jan. 26, Saint Louis is a modest 5-4 entering their final regular-season contest against UMass, which is not exactly ideal for a bubble team with very little subject matter to show. However, Saint Louis has the experience that is absolutely critical this time of year. The Billikens won the 2019 A10 Tournament and were a potential at-large selection in 2020 prior to the COVID pandemic shutting the NCAA Tournament down. In the time since returning, the Billikens have beat conference powers in St. Bonaventure and Richmond, while also taking VCU down to the wire. Saint Louis’ senior class is as dependable as they come. Entering the UMass matchup, Jordan Goodwin was averaging 14.6 points/game and 10.2 rebounds/game. Javonte Perkins averages 16.9 points/game, while Hasahn French provides 8.9 points/game and 7.2 rebounds/game. There is no time like the present for the Billikens’ loaded senior class to avoid the uncertainty of Selection Sunday by going on a multi-day streak (similar to 2019) to earn the conference’s automatic bid.

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