Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A-10 conference tournament preview

This is part 26 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country.  We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.

The standings:
Dayton 14-4 (24-6)
VCU 14-4 (22-9)
St Bonaventure 14-4 (22-7)
St Joseph's 13-5 (24-7)
George Washington 11-7 (22-9)
Davidson 10-8 (18-11)
Rhode Island 9-9 (17-14)
Fordham 8-10 (17-12)
Richmond 7-11 (15-15)
UMass 6-12 (13-17)
Duquesne 6-12 (16-15)
George Mason 5-13 (11-20)
St Louis 5-13 (10-20)
LaSalle 4-14 (8-21)

Tournament format:
Brooklyn.  All 14 teams from Wednesday March 9 to Sunday March 13.

The matchups:
1) Dayton vs. 8/9) Fordham/Richmond
4) St Joseph's vs. 5/12/13) George Washington/George Mason/St Louis
2) VCU vs. 7/10) Rhode Island/UMass
3) St Bonaventure vs. 6/11/14) Davidson/Duquesne/LaSalle

The stakes:
Dayton is playing for seeding, and there's too many variables with teams around them that analysis via the written word is a bit tough.  Just know they can be as high as 4 or as low as 11, to be quite honest.

Let's tackle the three bubble teams one at a time.  St Joe's.  Bad loss avoidance right until the end when they finally took one to Duquesne.  Solid metrics across the board, no weak links.  Of course, the tradeoff is the 5 Top 100 wins aren't the greatest.  I think they get in with bad loss avoidance...and with George Washington looming, they might not even get a chance to pick up a damaging loss.  While they're not outstanding, they lack the red flag that the committee likes to use to keep teams out.  SoS is fine.  Road/neutral is more than fine.

St Bonaventure has mostly erased their non-con sins.  It's a weird resume in that it's loaded with good but not great teams.  Beat Buffalo, Ohio, Vermont, lose to Hofstra, Syracuse, Siena.  But the pile of conference wins is good.  Here's another case where I think it's more important to have bad loss avoidance than anything else, and even Davidson wouldn't hurt them too much.  I think they're okay too, but just win that quarterfinal game to be sure, k?

VCU is a little behind, IMO.  They have basically the same resume as the two Saints, minus one key component:  a signature win over a sure tourney team.  Now, yes, that team is Dayton in both cases, but still.  VCU lacks that win over a sure tourney team, even though they beat both Bonaventure and Joseph head to head.  That seems insane on the surface, but yeah.  VCU beat both Saints and are right behind them in the S-Curve.  Being on the opposite side of Dayton hurts here...I wouldn't chance losing to Bonaventure in the semis if I were VCU.  It's a delicate situation for VCU because their resume is in line with the two Saints, minus that signature win.

George Washington is a bit further off the pace.  Would beating St Joe's be enough?  Doubtful, but possible.  St Joe's plus Dayton?  Now we're talking.  That might very well do it.

The NIT will have a decision with Davidson, who has the RPI but not much else working for it in the resume.  I think they'll squeak in, and the door will close in front of URI.  We'll see if anyone plays in another tourney.  I doubt the likes of Richmond or URI would turn out, but I could see Fordham or Duquesne opt in.

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