Written by: Ryan Cunningham
Starting this week at Wingspan, I will be giving a weekly overview of how the Atlantic 10 is shaping up. The A-10 has been a wild ride so far. Throughout the non-conference season, it looked like the A-10 was going to be a 1, maybe 2 bid league. Things haven’t changed. 4 games into the conference season, there is only 1 team with under 4 losses overall. Everyone seems to be beating up on each other. I’ve been to a few A-10 games this year so far and it is clearly a very talented league from bottom to top with great coaches. Anybody, and I mean anybody, can beat anyone in this league. Let’s take a deeper look into how the conference is shaping up.
Conference Standings as of 1/11/18:
- Rhode Island 12-3 (4-0)
- VCU 11-6 (3-1)
- Duquesne 12-5 (3-1)
- Davidson 8-7 (3-1)
- George Mason 8-9 (2-2)
- Dayton 8-8 (2-2)
- Massachusetts 9-8 (2-2)
- Saint Joseph’s 7-8 (2-2)
- St. Bonaventure 12-4 (2-2)
- La Salle 7-10 (1-3)
- Fordham 6-10 (1-3)
- George Washington 8-9 (1-3)
- Saint Louis 8-9 (1-3)
- Richmond 3-13 (1-3)
Let’s get into each team in more detail:
Key Wins: Seton Hall, Providence
Bad Losses: none
Key Players: Jared Terrell (17.9 PPG), E.C. Matthews (13.6 PPG)
Observations: The Rams have always been a tough defensive team and it continues this year. They are giving up only 66.9 PPG. Dan Hurley may have something to do with that. Rhode Island was picked 1st in the preseason poll, and they look like they will stroll to Washington the #1 seed in the A-10 tournament.
Next Game: 1/13 vs. St. Bonaventure 11AM on ESPNU
Key Wins: Duquesne, Old Dominion
Bad Losses: Saint Joseph’s
Key Players: Justin Tillman (17.7 PPG), De’Riante Jenkins (13.5 PPG)
Observations: The Rams had a very nice comeback win against a very good and undefeated Duquesne team on Tuesday. Justin Tillman, who was picked preseason 1st team all A-10, is an absolute beast down low coming up with 17 rebounds in the win.
Next Game: 11/12 @ Dayton 7PM on ESPN2
Key Wins: Dayton, San Francisco
Bad Losses: Robert Morris, Cornell
Key Players: Mike Lewis II (15.6 PPG), Eric Williams Jr. (14.4 PPG)
Observations: The Dukes, picked to finish last in the conference, are off to a hot start in the A-10. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they will not finish last. First year coach Keith Dambrot has done an excellent job with his new team. As a Davidson fan, I am terrified of this team and I am not looking forward to facing them.
Next Game: 1/13 vs. La Salle 12:30PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: George Mason
Bad Losses: Appalachian State, Hawaii, Richmond
Key Players: Peyton Aldridge (20.4 PPG), Kellan Grady (15.9 PPG), Jon Axel Gudmundsson (14.4 PPG)
Observations: As a Davidson fan, I am happy where my team is at this point. There have been multiple injuries to both the back and front courts. Nathan Ekwu (6’7″, 245) and Dusan Kovacevic (6’10”, 245) are both out for the season with knee injuries. Luke Frampton, a 6’5″ guard who tore his ACL in the preseason, has been compared to Peyton Aldridge by people close to Davidson. It’s a shame Luke and Peyton won’t get a chance to play together. After a tough loss to Richmond, the Wildcats have won 3 in a row and have been playing with grit and toughness. If you’re not tough, you can’t play for Bob McKillop.
Next Game: 1/14 @ Fordham 3PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s
Bad Losses: Louisiana Tech, William & Mary
Key Players: Otis Livingston II (16.3 PPG), Jaire Grayer (13.7 PPG)
Observations: After a blowout loss to Davidson at home, Otis Livingston II hit an NBA three at the buzzer to beat St. Joe’s. The Patriots were down by one with only a few seconds left when Livingston chucked it up. After the Davidson game, this was the perfect way to get their momentum back.
Next Game: 1/13 vs. Saint Louis 2:30PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: St. Bonaventure
Bad Losses: Pennsylvania, Hofstra
Key Players: Darrell Davis (17.0 PPG), Josh Cunningham (15.8 PPG)
Observations: The Flyers have had an up and down season so far. After an exhilarating win against the Bonnies, they lost to UMass. It may take some more time to implement Anthony Grant’s system, but I’m confident they’ll get it going.
Next Game: 1/12 vs. VCU 7PM on ESPN2
Key Wins: Providence, Georgia
Bad Losses: Harvard, Quinnipiac
Key Players: Luwane Pipkins (19.8 PPG)
Observations: The Minutemen needed an incredible 44 points from Luwane Pipkins to take down a very tough La Salle team in overtime this week. UMass took down Dayton in Ohio last week in a thriller. This team is very dangerous, especially when Pipkins is hot.
Next Game: 1/14 vs. Saint Joseph’s 5PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: VCU, St. Bonaventure
Bad Losses: George Washington, George Mason
Key Players: Shavar Newkirk (17.6 PPG), James Demery (17.3 PPG)
Observations: The Hawks have one of the best scoring duos in the country with Newkirk and Demery. They are both combining for 35 points per game. After a heartbreaking buzzer beater loss to George Mason, St. Joe’s will head on the road to face a very tough UMass team at the Mullins Center.
Next Game: 1/14 @ Massachusetts 5PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: Maryland, Syracuse
Bad Losses: Niagara, Saint Joseph’s
Key Players: Jaylen Adams (18.5 PPG), Matt Mobley (17.0 PPG)
Observations: The combo of Adams and Mobley is deadly in the A-10. Any team in this conference that has good guards has a good shot at having success. After a very successful non-conference, the Bonnies have started out 2-2, defying expectations. Picked 2nd in the preseason poll, they’re going to have to do some extra work if they want to finish second.
Next Game: 1/13 @ Rhode Island 11AM on ESPNU
Key Wins: Temple
Bad Losses: Drexel
Key Players: B.J. Johnson (21.2 PPG), Pookie Powell (18.7 PPG)
Observations: The Explorers started off conference play with a blowout win over Saint Louis. Since then, they’ve dropped 3 in a row against 3 tough teams. If the bench gets going, La Salle can be very good. They are too reliant on Johnson and Powell.
Next Game: 1/13 @ Duquesne 12:30 PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: none
Bad Losses: Miami (OH)
Key Players: Will Tavares (15.5 PPG), Joseph Chartouny (11.6 PPG)
Observations: The Rams have had a tough go so far. I’ve seen Fordham play a few times in the last few years. Joseph Chartouny is one heck of a player. He’s got good size for a guard, he can shoot, and he’s tough. They get a chance to get on track when they host Davidson at Rose Hill Gym, who they have beaten 2 out of their last 3. Fordham’s match up zone has given the Wildcats trouble over the last few years and I expect the same when I’m in attendance this Sunday.
Next Game: 1/14 vs. Davidson 3PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: Temple
Bad Losses: Rider
Key Players: Yuta Watanabe (14.4 PPG), Jair Bolden (12.5 PPG)
Observations: The Colonials struggled against Davidson shooting the ball, putting up only 45 points to Davidson’s 72. GW averages 5.5 threes made per game. That just doesn’t work in college basketball today with the way some teams shoot. Their lack of a post presence doesn’t help as well. But never underestimate Yuta Watanabe, who can take over a game by himself.
Next Game: 1/13 @ Richmond 4:30PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: Virginia Tech
Bad Losses: Detroit Mercy
Key Players: Javon Bess (12.7 PPG), Jordan Goodwin (10.9 PPG)
Observations: The Billikens started off the year with a thrilling win over Virginia Tech. Things haven’t gone too well since. Saint Louis is averaging 65 PPG which has been their main weakness. I’m willing to give their new coach, Travis Ford, some time before I have an opinion on them. Their close loss to Rhode Island shows that they are a pretty tough team. Some questionable officiating at the end may have costed them the game.
Next Game: 1/13 @ George Mason 2:30PM on NBCSN
Key Wins: Davidson
Bad Losses: Delaware, Jacksonville State
Key Players: Grant Golden (14.3 PPG), De’Monte Buckingham (12.6 PPG)
Observations: The Spiders’ season has been a disaster to be quite honest. Other than beating Davidson (how???????), they have not had any impressive wins. They have a quality coach in Chris Mooney, but the loss of T.J. Cline has hurt the Spiders. He was their heart and soul and it looks like nobody has stepped up in his absence. Their lack of experience is showing in their game at the moment.
Next Game: 1/13 vs. George Washington 4:30PM on NBCSN
Check back for my weekly Atlantic 10 updates every Tuesday starting next week. Make sure to watch some of the games this weekend and tweet me your thoughts!