Saturday, January 3, 2009

Heading Into Conference Play

I wanted to take a quick look at how the other teams in the A10 are doing as most teams finish up non conference play today.

*Please note the RPI numbers are from Friday 1/2 and come from RealtimeRPI.

Charlotte: 5-6, #196 The 49ers started season in a hole at 1-6. They play at Maryland Saturday and still have non conference games against Tulsa and Winthrop later. Their best win to date has been at Southern Illinois. They are lead by Lamont Mack scoring wise at 12 a game.

Dayton: 13-1, #27 The Flyers have been on a roll. Their only loss has been at Creighton which is a very difficult place to win. They should have a spot in the top 25 heading into A10 contests. Their best win was a neutral floor whipping of Marquette. Gregory is using up to 12 guys on a regular basis. 'Flight' Wright leads the pack at 12.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG before their game Friday against Toledo.

Duquesne: 9-4, #142 The Dukes did better than I suspected in the non conference portion of their schedule. The remainder of their games will be in conference. Their best win was against Bowling Green and they took 'L's' against Duke, Pitt, West Virginia, and Old Dominion. They shoot the 3 ball very well as a team. Senior Aaron Jackson leads the team in scoring at 17.0 per game.

Fordham: 2-9, #331 The Rams finish non conference play at Bowling Green today. The A10's resident RPI killers have beaten New Hampshire and Lafayette (both at home). Obviously this young team is struggling. Frosh phenom Jio Fontan leads the team in scoring at 12.8 PPG despite a woeful three point shooting percentage of 21%.

George Washington: 6-5, #141 The Colonials wrap up their non conference schedule today at Longwood. Their best win thus far has been at Boston University. They went out to a tournament in Hawaii just recently and died. Coach Hobbs' team took three losses in a row on the island (Vermont, Hawaii by 26!, and Coppin State!) that could take them some time to recover from. Rob Diggs and Damian Hollis both average around 11.5 scoring wise. Frosh Tony Taylor has started every game at point guard thus far.

LaSalle: 7-5, #122 The Explorers still have Howard to play and a Big 5 tussle against Penn before their nonconference slate is complete. They are coming off their best win which was a waxing of Manhattan. They did suffer a stinker loss on the road at Cornell which killed their RPI. Rodney Green leads the team with 14.9 PPG and has dished out 45 assists.

Massachusetts: 4-7, #158 The Minutemen finish with Vanderbilt at home today in the NC. They got pounded on the road against Houston 54-80 last time out. Their best win to date has been beating Kansas on a 'neutral' floor in Kansas City. Ricky Harris is tearing it up at 19.8 PPG and shooting the trey at a 42% clip on 95 attempts. This is another good long range shooting team. They have been inconsistent and Derek Kellogg is still finding his way as a first year coach. The talent on this team is better than their record.

Rhode Island: 9-4, #44 The Rams play Akron at home today and then go on the road to Toledo later this week before heading into A10 play. Their best win to date has either been Penn State or Virginia Commonwealth. Jimmy Baron is averaging 17.5 PPG to lead team and is shooting a sterling 45% from deep. He is one of the best distance shooters in college basketball this season. Kaheim Seawright is a very solid interior player.

Richmond: 6-6, #155 The Spiders host Rice today and finish their NC schedule at Virginia Tech later this month. Their best win has been on the road at UNC-Wilmington. Kevin Anderson (17.0 PPG, 36.1 MPG) and David Gonzalvez (16.5 PPG, 34.3 MPG) rarely leave the floor for Coach Chris Mooney. This team will be a tough out in conference play.

St. Joseph's: 5-7, #119 The Hawks play today at Ball State and have a Big 5 matchup against Penn later this month. Their best win was a 19 point road contest at Towson. They have been average and disappointing to this point in the season. They have a very thin bench and Martelli barely plays 8. Ahmad Nivins has been a beast for the team however at 18.8 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 38.1 MPG. Coach Phil always has his team playing well by conference season and I think this team will be no exception.

Saint Louis: 8-5, #165 The Billikens are finished with non conference play heading into their A10 opener at X on Thursday night. They enjoyed a nice win over Boston College in their new arena earlier this season. Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell both average around 14 PPG.

St. Bonaventure: 8-4, #218 The Bonnies are in Conway, AR today to finish up their non conference schedule against Central Arkansas. Their best win has been at Rutgers. JUCO Jonathan Hall leads the team in scoring at 14.1 PPG. Freshman big man Andrew Nicholson has been outstanding also with 13.0 PPG and 43 blocked shots. This team could suprise some people in the league.

Temple: 5-6, #25 The Owls have the nations number one strength of schedule as of Friday 1/2. They have a signature win over a very good Tennessee team. They close non conference play this week against Kent State and at Eastern Michigan. Dionte Christmas is at 20.1 PPG currently and hitting the three ball at 40%. Big man Sergio Olmos has developed from being a 'project' to average 11.4 PPG.

Xavier: 10-2, #5 The Musketeers had the number 2 strength of schedule as of Friday 1/2 afternoon. They have NC tilts left at Virginia today and at LSU later this month. Both present tough challenges and X would do well to split those two. The best win to date has been beating Memphis on a neutral floor to win the tourney in Puerto Rico earlier this season. The teams we must face twice in the A10 season include Dayton, Fordham, and Charlotte. Derrick Brown is leading the team in scoring at 14.2 PPG and is has hit 17-36 (47%) from three land heading into today's game.

I love the intensity conference play brings. Familiarity between teams and players produce fantastic games at times.

Overall I think the two teams with the best chance for an at large bid in the NCAA tournament come March are Xavier and UD. Temple and Rhode Island have at large possibilities but they both have work to do in my opinion. Also it would not suprise me if a team such as LaSalle, St. Joe's, or Richmond won the A10 tournament. In the end I do not see the A10 garnering any more than three bids but there is still much to be determined over the next few months.

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