The Atlantic 10 is celebrating their 45th year of being a conference with the A-10 Men's Basketball Championship sponsored by Air Force Reserve. During that time, the Atlantic 10 has become one of the best mid-major basketball conferences in the country. Normally, the tournament is played at the Barclays Center in New York, but the tournament has been moved to Richmond, VA this year due to the pandemic.
All of the games except the final will either be played at the Siegel Center, the home arena of Virginia Commonwealth (VCU), or at the Robins Center, the home arena of Richmond. The championship game will be played at the UD Arena in Dayton, the home arena of the Dayton Flyers. This move is also a cost-cutting measure since all three teams are already in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Here is a look at the tournament schedule. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time (EST).
First Round -- Wednesday, March 3rd
Game 1: #12 LaSalle Explorers (9-15) vs #13 St. Joseph's Hawks (4-14) - 11 AM
Game 2: #11 George Washington Colonials (4-11) vs #14 Fordham Rams (2-11) - 2 PM
The first round games will be aired on ESPN+.
Second Round -- Thursday, March 4th
Game 3: #8 Richmond Spiders (13-7) vs #9 Duquesne Dukes (8-8) - 11 AM
Game 4: #5 Massachusetts Minutemen (7-6) vs Winner of Game 1 - 1 PM
Game 5: #7 Dayton Flyers (13-8) vs #10 Rhode Island Rams (10-14) - 3:30 PM
Game 6: #6 George Mason Patriots (12-8) vs Winner of Game 2 - 5:30 PM
The second round games will be televised on NBCSN.
Quarterfinals -- Friday, March 5th
Game 7: #1 St. Bonaventure Bonnies (13-4) vs Winner of Game 3 - 11 AM
Game 8: #4 Saint Louis Billikens (13-5) vs Winner of Game 4 - 1 PM
Game 9: #2 VCU Rams (17-6) vs Winner of Game 5 - 3:30 PM
Game 10: #3 Davidson Wildcats (12-7) vs Winner of Game 6 - 5:30 PM
All quarterfinal games will be televised on NBCSN.
Semifinals -- Saturday, March 6th
Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 - 6 PM
Winner of Game 9 vs Winner of Game 10 - 9 PM
The semifinals will be televised on CBSSN.
The Atlantic 10 Championship will take place on Sunday, March 14th at the UD Arena in Dayton, OH at 1 PM on CBS. Whichever teams advance to the championship game will be well-rested heading into the title game.
This tournament is very interesting because none of the teams in this conference is a lock to qualify for the NCAA Tournament at this time. For a team to erase all doubts from committee members on Selection Sunday, the team will have to at least advance to the championship game.
As you can see from the overall records listed above in the schedule, no team is a clear-cut favorite to win this tournament. Here is a list of the teams that have the potential to win the A-10 Championship.
St. Bonaventure virtually came out of nowhere in order to win the Atlantic 10 regular season outright. The Bonnies play with an aggressive 4-guard lineup, which is very effective because all five starters average double-figures in points. Their offensive style prevents opposing defenses from keying on any particular player on the court.
VCU always seems to be in the mix because of their aggressive helter-skelter style of play. G Nah'shon Hyland (19.2 ppg) can take over games by himself if he goes on a hot streak.
Davidson runs a highly efficient offense, which is led by guards Kellan Grady (16.8 ppg) and Hyunjung Lee (13.2 ppg). Wildcats men's basketball coach Bob McKillop is one of the best coaches in college basketball today as he went over the 600-win mark earlier this season.
St. Louis appeared to be on the path of being a clear-cut favorite earlier in the season, but their season was derailed by COVID-19 with six games being postponed during the middle of the season due to coronavirus protocols. Nevertheless, the Billikens are a problem due to their backcourt duo of Javonte Perkins (16.9 ppg) and Jordan Goodwin (14.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg).
Besides the top four teams in the conference, there are three other teams that underachieved during the regular season that are looking to go on a significant tourney run.
The Dayton Flyers have been mired in the land of inconsistency all season long, but they have the potential to give opponents all kinds of headaches this week. Plus, having the championship in their home arena may provide extra incentive for the Flyers.
Richmond made the most noise out of all of the Atlantic 10 teams in non-conference play with their upset win over Kentucky. However, they did not gain momentum off of that win with a disappointing regular season slate. Nevertheless, their offense is really efficient with all five starters scoring in double figures. Playing the first part of this tournament in their home town could also give Richmond a significant push throughout this week.
Rhode Island always seems to make some sort of run in this tournament. Two years ago, Rhode Island was the #8 seed, but made it all the way to the semifinals after upsetting VCU. If Rhode Island can win over Dayton, then they would meet VCU again in the quarterfinals. Rhode Island has the capability to pull off some more upsets this week with PG Fatts Russell (15 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2 spg).
Although St. Joe's finished with a 4-14 overall record, the Hawks are on a three-game winning streak after leading scorer and rebounder Ryan Daly (19.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) returned from injury. If they can continue to make winning a trend, then St. Joe's could possibly become one of the biggest Cinderellas to ever make it to the Big Dance in NCAA history.
Clear out the rest of this week so that you will be able to watch a few of these games. Since these teams are so evenly matched, most of the outcomes will not be predetermined.
Schedule is from Atlantic10.com. Image is from Pixabay.