NCAA Tournament Bubble Watch: The Atlantic 10

Todd ParmeleeSenior Analyst IMarch 2, 2008

The Atlantic 10 Conference is probably the most difficult to figure out.  When Selection Sunday occurs on March 16th, it is entirely possible that only one team will receive a bid. 

Early in the year, the Atlantic 10 was everyone’s darling with UMass, Rhode Island and Dayton making a splash by defeating teams from the power conferences.  Now, Rhode Island, UMass and Dayton are all on the cusp of missing the NCAA Tournament.  What happened? 

The Atlantic 10 Tournament will most likely be the most competitive out of all the conference tournaments.  Can one of the bubble teams: UMass, Rhode Island, Temple, Saint Louis, Richmond or Dayton knock-off Xavier?

I) In the NCAA Tournament

Xavier: 26-5, 14-2 in conference,  #6 RPI (last week #6), #9 AP

Xavier is the cream of the crop in the Atlantic 10.  They have nearly gone unscathed in a competitive conference.  Xavier has won 11 in a row since losing to Temple on Jan. 16th.
The Good: 11 wins in a row in a very competitive, underrated conference.  80-65 win over Indiana, 79-66 win over Creighton, 103-77 win over Kansas State, 108-70 win over Virginia. 
The Bad: 57-59 loss to Miami Ohio, 55-77 loss to Arizona State.
Outlook: If Xavier wins the Atlantic 10 Tournament they should be awarded with a high number two seed.

II) On the Outside Looking In

 Dayton: 20-9 overall, 8-8 in conference,  #36 RPI (llast week #35)

Dayton started off the year 14-1.  They were one of the nation’s hottest teams.  Since then, Dayton has struggle going 4-8 over their last 12 games. 
The Good:  13 straight wins.  70-65 win at Louisville, 80-55 win over Pitt.
The Bad: Dayton has lost eight games since starting the year 14-1.  A 56-67 loss to George Mason.
Outlook: Dayton needs to win their remaining conference games at St. Bonaventure and St. Josephs. This would put them at 8-8 in conference.  They have a strong RPI ranking.  They also may need to win some games in the conference tournament. Update: Dayton defeated St. Bonaventure on March 5th (78-73).

UMass: 21-9 overall, 10-6, #40 RPI (last week #39)

With their backs against the wall, UMass has won four straight games (Saint Louis, Rhode Island St. Bonaventure, Richmond).
The Good: 107-100 win @ Syracuse, 83-80 @ Boston College, 82-71 win over Dayton
The Bad:  77-89 loss to IUPUI, 68-75 Loss vs. Northern Iowa. 
Outlook: UMass is most likely in the tournament.  They have two games remaining (La Salle and at George Washington), before the conference tournament begins on March 12th. Update: UMASS defeated LaSalle 100-63 on March 5th. 

Saint Joseph’s: 18-11 overall, 9-7 in conference, #55 RPI (last week #65)
The Bad: 66-71 loss to Holy Cross, 69-72 loss to Syracuse
The Good: 77-55 win over Villanova, Two wins over UMass (98-92, 81-77)
Outlook: A tough three-game schedule remains (Temple, Xavier, at Dayton).  A home win over Xavier would be huge.   Saint Joseph's dropped a tough one to Temple on March 2nd 56-57.  Update: Saint Joseph's upset Xavier 71-66 on March 6th.  The win could boosts Saint Joseph's over UMASS who has a similar conference record.  Saint Joseph's defeated UMASS twice this year.

Temple: 18-12, 11-5, #58 RPI (Last week #66)

Outlook:   A 2nd place finish in conference and 4 straight wins has Temple surging heading into the post season.  Temple will most likely need to make it to the confernce championship game to receive at-large consideration.  Temple played a tough non-conference schedule (Duke, Tennessee, Villanova, Florida, Providence).   Their RPI ranking has been on the rise over the last two weeks.  

III) On the Fringes

Rhode Island: 21-10 overall, 7-9 in conference, #68 RPI (last week #58)

Rhode Island started off the year strong (14-1), but since has cooled (7-8 in last 15 games).  
The Good: Wins over weaker Big East teams (South Florida, Providence, Syracuse).  82-70 win over Dayton,.
The Bad: Rhode Island is slipping fast, losing five out of their last six. 
Outlook: Rhode Island has one game remaining vs. Charlotte.  Rhode Island is most likely NIT bound.  Rhode Island is off the bubble and will need to win their conference tournament.

Saint Louis: 16-14, 7-9, #116 RPI 

Outlook: Rick Majerus’ team will be in the NIT, unless they can win their conference tournament.

Richmond : 16-13, 9-7#120 RPI
Outlook: Richmond is very similar to Temple, except that they have a very poor RPI ranking.  They are on this list only because of their strong record in conference.  They will most likely find themselves out of the post season entirely. Update: Richmond defeated Fordham 58-53 on March 5th.