Tuesday, February 15, 2022

A Look At Atlantic 10 Resumes

The college basketball regular season is quickly coming to a close. It's making things more stable in the NIT bracket projections, meaning we have a clearer picture of which teams have a chance to make it to the postseason and which ones are going to be left at home.

The Atlantic 10 though is one of the most fascinating leagues in the country. Davidson currently leads the league standings at 11-2, so every other team has suffered at least three conference losses. It's possible that there won't be an NCAA Tournament at-large bid from the league, but there are currently six teams in the top 100 of the NET.

A top 100 NET ranking also happens to be the cutoff for a reasonable shot at an NIT bid. Let's take a deeper look at the resumes of those six teams and what they still have left to do in order to make it into one of those postseason tournaments in 2022.

Dayton (18-8, NET: 57) — The Flyers are a fascinating case for seeding and bracketology because of what they did at the beginning of non-conference season. Anthony Grant's team suffered three Quad IV losses in a row to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay at home in the middle of November. Then they dramatically turned things around at went and beat Miami FL, Kansas and Belmont. The disparity between those results speaks to the confusion about how to deal with the Flyers. It's possible the committees focus on the good and try to forget about those three early losses. My guess is that ultimately they're enough to prevent Dayton from making the NCAA Tournament, but it should lead to a high seed in the NIT.

Davidson (21-4, NET: 60) — It's possible that Davison could get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if the Wildcats don't win the Atlantic 10 tournament. They have a clean resume, with no Quad III or Quad IV losses. They also beat Alabama and won at VCU. There are tough games coming up against Saint Louis on Saturday and in the regular season finale at Dayton. Teams with at resume like Davidson's have made the NCAAs on occasion, but they've also been left out. It'll be a close call come Selection Sunday.  

Saint Louis (17-8, NET: 61) — Before getting swept in a home-and-home against St. Bonaventure I thought Saint Louis had a legitimate shot of making a late-season run into the NCAA Tournament. Now that seems unlikely barring an A-10 tournament title. The Billikens also happen to have one of the hardest remaining schedules in the league. They still play at Davidson, Richmond and Rhode Island and host VCU. That gives them four resume boosting opportunities. Of course, T-Rank currently puts the odds of winning all four of those games at about 8% or so. Barring that, I would expect Saint Louis to end up with at least one home game in the NIT.

VCU (16-7, NET: 66) — Credit to VCU for playing a tough non-conference schedule. Unfortunately the Rams didn't get the signature win that the resume needed to put them over the top in the NCAA Tournament bubble discussion. They did win by a point at Dayton, which is the best win a team can get during Atlantic 10 play, but I doubt that's enough to push them into the Big Dance. Now the problem is that the rest of the conference schedule presents a lot of downside risk with the only potential bonus being a win in their season finale at Saint Louis. Losing any of the other games (@Fordham, Richmond, George Mason, @UMass, Saint Bonaventure) would just add another Quad III or IV loss to the resume. Even if they win those games, VCU's resume looks like an NIT No. 1 or 2 seed.

Richmond (17-9, NET: 86) — Richmond blew its first two chances to get a Quad I win, including at Mississippi St. in overtime during non-conference. Its last chance comes on Friday at VCU. An upset win in that rivalry game would vault the Spiders into serious contention for an NIT at-large bid. Without it? I'm not sure what to do with them. In my last bracket I had the Spiders holding on to a tenuous seven seed, which means they're likely to be knocked out once a few conference champions fall in other 1-bid leagues. Richmond though has an extremely difficult schedule down the stretch in conference play. After VCU they take on Saint Louis and Dayton at home before finishing at St. Bonaventure. All three are opportunities to maybe edge up a seed line or two. It seems likely though that Chris Mooney's team will be sweating things out until the later part of Selection Sunday.

St. Bonaventure (15-7, NET: 87) —A brilliant run through the Charleston Classic is currently the difference between the SBU and Richmond resumes. Those wins over Boise St., Clemson and Marquette are a unicorn ring float holding SBU above water in its chase for a spot in the postseason. The problem for Mark Schmidt is that he only has one more chance in A-10 play to work that sort of magic — at VCU on March 1. The Bonnies also have a tough game at Saint Joseph's, which could result in another Quad III loss. Whether they avoid all the potential pitfalls remaining down the stretch and/or pull off an upset at VCU will determine their postseason fate. The most likely expectation is a chance to play in the NIT, though probably on the road.

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