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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Atlantic 10

The Atlantic 10 is an odd conference.  Despite its name there are fourteen members (memo: Big Ten).  It is not one of the so-called "Power 6" conferences but the conference is good enough at basketball that it shouldn't be considered a mid-major.  Really it's a bit of a tweener who gets robbed of some deserving schools when there are a great number of bubble teams from the bigger conferences and gets the benefit of sneaking in another school or two when the Power 6 has a down year.  For the latter this is one of those years.

I'll only discuss the teams with post season hopes and instead save everyone the chore of reading about the bottom dwellers--including Fordham who may be the worst team in Division I.
Read on after the jump.

Teams that should be in:
Xavier - I'm not really sure if Xavier is the best team in the conference or not.  They're currently 10-2 in A-10 play but failed to register any wins against quality opponents outside of conference (though they may have gotten the shaft against Butler).  Still, they appear to be playing their best basketball of the season now and any team that sees them in the NCAA Tournament won't take them lightly.
Likely seed: 5 or 6

Temple - Also 10-2 in conference, Temple is 21-5 overall with big wins over Siena, Virginia Tech, and Villanova.  The one knock on them is they may have peaked already.  Still, Ken Pomeroy has them ranked 12th in defensive efficiency, specializing in forcing their opponents to take difficult shots. If they face a team reliant upon FG% in March things could get tricky.
Likely seed: 5 or 6

Richmond - The one team I don't know what to think of.  They've beaten Old Dominion and Missouri out in non-conference games and an 11-2 record in conference puts them in first place, a half game ahead of both Xavier and Temple.  However, their schedule is about to get a bit tougher as their last three games are @Xavier, Dayton, and @Charlotte.  Win two of those and I'm a believer.  Lose all three and the Spiders might be in the NIT.
Likely seed 7

Bubble hopes:
Dayton - The A-10's preseason favorite, Dayton seemed to be getting on track before losing @St. Louis last week.  The Flyers are 5-6 against top 100 RPI teams but just 1-5 vs. the top 25 in the RPI and are just 4-4 on the road.  Don't expect a deep tournament run from this squad.
Likely seed: 9

Rhode Island -  The Rams had lost three in a row before crushing Fordham Saturday.  They rank 30th in strength of schedule and are 8-4 on the road but are just 4-6 vs. top 100 RPI teams.  They have a light finish to the season with the only challenging game being a home contest vs. Charlotte.  If they win that they should finish 11-5 in conference.  Winning a couple conference tournament games should seal the deal.
Likely seed: 11 or 12

Charlotte - After starting 8-1 in conference play, the 49ers have now lost three in a row likely popping the bubble.  They do have a nice win @Louisville but lost by 42 to Duke, 33 to Old Dominion, and 17 to Tennessee (all road games).  The committee is not supposed to consider margin of victory/defeat but the sheer margin of these losses may be a subconscious factor if nothing else.  Charlotte may need to win out to jump back into the field of 65.
Likely seed: NIT 

St. Louis - Once a tournament afterthought thanks in part to a 3-3 start to the conference and a pathetic non-conference schedule (best non-conference win is a home game vs. Nebraska), the Billikins are now on the bubble.  A six game conference winning streak which includes wins over Dayton and Rhode Island will do that.  The going's about to get a lot tougher though as Xavier, Temple, and a rematch on the road with Dayton make up three of the final four games.  It would be fun to see Rick Majerus in the tournament again.
Likely seed: NIT

The Atlantic 10 is one of the deepest conferences in the nation but like most conferences lack an elite team this season.  I expect five teams to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and could see a couple making the Sweet 16 but the road ends there.
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