Ok, I’ll take the blame: I was responsible for ranking the men’s Atlantic 10 basketball field in our Basketball Preview way back when in November. With the A-10 Tournament looming, what better time than the present to simultaneously pat myself on the back while kicking myself over the path taken by my prognostications? All comments, insults, and compliments (especially compliments) are welcomed.
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Our prediction: 1
Final place: 7
It’s hard to figure where Dayton’s season went awry. They started out 13-3—with a win over a ranked Georgia Tech and two narrow losses at other ranked opponents in New Mexico and Villanova. But the Flyers stumbled down the stretch, going 6-8 in their final 14 games, including losses in five of their last seven outings. Defense’s penchant for keying in on Chris Wright successfully has limited his ability to take over games. He hasn’t been the superstar he’s needed to be, and the supporting cast has been unspectacular.
Our prediction: 2
Final place: 2
Bull’s-eye! I’ll take any victory I can get. It didn’t look that way early on, with the Musketeers stumbling out of an extraordinarily tough nonconference slate with an 8-5 record. But this young squad, led by A-10 scoring champ Jordan Crawford and the rapid maturation of Jason Love into a premier big man, has meshed down the stretch. They’ve crept into the Top 25 thanks to a seven-game win streak, and could end up with a high seed in the Big Dance if they can buck their trend of poor showings in the A-10 Tourney in recent history.
Our prediction: 3
Final place: 3
There’s another one for us. Richmond probably finished second behind the team just below them in our preseason poll in the running for the most chic pick in the A-10. They had their chance at a share of the regular season title, but they fell at Xavier in double OT. They’ve still won 10 of their last 11, including a 15-point thrashing of Temple, behind the dynamic duo of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez. Dan Geriot (7.0 points per game) hasn’t produced as I’d expected, but the other starters have more than compensated.
Our prediction: 4
Final place: 13
The Explorers are easily the biggest disappointment in the A-10, a distinction that is meant with no ill will. They’ve had three seniors—Ruben Guillandeaux, Yves Mekongo, and Kimmani Barrett—miss significant time this year. The career points missing for La Salle totaled nearly 3,000, easily the highest in the nation. The injuries left Rodney Green by his lonesome as the only senior in one of the most talented yet tragic classes in recent memory for the Explorers. I can’t feel all that guilty for this massive miscalculation.
Our prediction: 5
Final place: 8
Losing Melquan Bolding for 13 games early in the season didn’t help. And while he was back in time for the start of conference play, he wasn’t his usual self for a Duquesne team that lost their first four A-10 games. Do the math: he averaged 6.0 points per game in those first four games, and 14.5 in the other 13 games he played this season. The Dukes average margin of defeat in those four game was just eight points, and just two wins separate them from their eighth place finish and fifth place prediction. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
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Our prediction: 6
Final place: 1
When Mark Tyndale graduated from the first of the Owls’ two straight A-10 titles, Dionte Christmas and company were able to repeat the following year. They seem right on track again this year without former scoring champ Christmas. Juan Fernandez has lived up to his hype even through a midseason slump, Ryan Brooks has evolved into a legitimate number one scorer, and the evolution of Lavoy Allen (averaging a double-double) and Ramone Moore is more than we could have foreseen four months ago.
Our prediction: 7
Final place: 6
Seventh place seemed like a safe bet for a team as enigmatic as the 49ers. Bobby Lutz set up an unusually difficult nonconference slate with four ranked teams on the docket, for which they were rewarded with an 8-1 start in the A-10. But they’ve lost six of their last seven to float back down toward the middle of the pack to make me look better. It’s hard to believe the same team that beat Temple by 10 lost to Duquesne by six at home. Enigma.
Our prediction: 8
Final place: 12
Maybe we gave in to a little bit of hometown bias. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking for not having to sit through an excruciating year nearer the conference’s basement. The reasons for the shortcoming here are easy: Garrett Williamson’s emergence came too late in the season, Darrin Govens’ hasn’t come at officially, Idris Hilliard hasn’t taken the steps forward that would have been needed, the two freshmen guards haven’t met what in retrospect appears to be unfair and unrealistic expectations, and the bench’s performances have been spotty.
Our prediction: 9
Final place: 11
Four wins in their last five games sealed their fate near the foot of the standings, but they were able to do just enough in the season finale against Rhode Island to ensure their place in the top 12.The preseason prediction was made largely on the basis of their ability to put up points, something they did at the fourth fastest rate in the conference. Their defense, which allowed over 75 points per game for a scoring margin of -4.4, is the primary perpetrator for their lower than expected finish.
Our prediction: 10
Final place: 5
Rhode Island had won at least 20 games each of the last two seasons, but the graduation of their two top scorers from a year ago was our main cause for concern. The Rams are notorious for soft nonconference schedules that result in win totals belying their ability to compete in the A-10. This year looked to follow the same blueprint, but the Rams steadied themselves early in the A-10 season. They have lost five of their last seven, including surprising losses at St. Bonaventure and UMass that have damaged their postseason aspirations.
Our prediction: 11
Final place: 9
The senior backcourt tandem of Jonathan Hall and Chris Matthews have struggled through some tough times in Olean, but they were excellent this year to steer the Bonnies to their best finish since 2001-02 (you know, the season that Charlotte and St. Louis finished third and fourth, respectively. In Conference USA.) I had them in the same position they finished the previous season, but with Hall and Matthews as their only two departures this season, I don’t plan on making that same mistake again next season.
Our prediction: 12
Final place: 4
If La Salle is the biggest disappointment, then St. Louis is the most pleasant surprise beyond a shadow of a doubt. The youngest team in Division I with just one junior and no seniors, no one expected them to be sitting pretty with a first-round bye in the A-10 Tourney. A cupcake of a nonconference schedule brought five losses in the first 14 games, but they would lose only five of their 16 A-10 outings. In Kwamain Mitchell, Willie Reed, and Cody Ellis, the Billikens have a nucleus that could get scary good in years to come.
Our prediction: 13
Final place: 10
Damian Hollis wanted to prevent a repeat of last year’s 13th place finish, and he was one of the major forces driving the Colonials into the top 10 after last year’s tumultuous season. His efforts, along with the emergence of freshman Lasan Kromah into an All A-10 performer, assured them of fairly comfortable qualification for the A-10 Tourney. They lost their last two games, including a somewhat surprising loss at home to a desperate St. Joe’s squad, but still exceeded our expectations.
Our prediction: 14
Final place: 14
Probably the easiest pick of the bunch. Despite having Rookie of the Year Chris Gaston in the squad (which may be a product of their poor record, no?), the Rams have still made the basement their home for a second straight season. The constant distraction that was Jio Fontan jumped ship early on, but not early enough to salvage the season or head coach Dereck Whittenburg’s job. I saw a train wreck coming, but even I thought they would scrape out at least one measly win. Too bad they didn’t get St. Joe’s at home in January.