The official bracket is available for viewing on http://Atlantic10.com, so let’s take a look at the matchups and see who will get the automatic qualifying bid for the conference.
St. Bonaventure vs. Duquesne
Considering the winner of this game moves on to play Temple in the second round, the winner of this game is irrelevant, but let’s take a look anyway.
These teams split their season series, each winning at home. However, Duquesne only won their game by one point, while St Bonaventure had a much larger margin of victory: 12 points.
The Bonnies are the host team for this matchup, so they get my pick, especially after winning four of their last five, including a shocker over Rhode Island.
Rhode Island vs. St Joseph’s
These teams only met once during the regular season, in which the Rams smacked the Hawks around by 27. However, after being a sure-fire lock for the tournament, Rhode Island stumbled down the stretch, losing five of their last seven, including embarrassing road losses to St Bonaventure and UMass.
Phil Martelli’s Hawks have been far from impressive this year, one game shy of a 20-loss season. They don’t scare anyone, much less the Rams.
Rhode Island needs to sit down and take today and Monday off to relax. Refocus yourselves. Until those last seven games, you were a team that everyone knew would make the tournament, and a team that some thought could really shake things up.
Don’t let those losses get yourselves down. Suck it up and don’t let a team that Charlotte beat by almost 40 catch you off guard.
Dayton vs. George Washington
The Flyers won by 15 in their regular-season matchup, and I don’t expect this to go much differently.
Let’s keep this short. The Colonials couldn’t even beat Harvard. In fact, they let the Ivy League non-factor beat them by double digits.
GW is nothing more than an afterthought. If Dayton doesn’t beat them, they don’t even deserve to make the NIT.
Charlotte vs. UMass
Again, this shouldn’t even be close. Charlotte pounded the Minutemen on the road earlier this season, and considering Charlotte gets to host this time, it may just be the boost the 49ers need to get them out of their funk.
UMass may have shocked Rhode Island Saturday, but don’t read too much into that. This is a team that lost to a post-Stephen Curry Davidson, Cornell and UCF, not to mention allowing 100+ to Michigan State.
UMass got lucky over the Rams, but the 49ers won’t be caught looking ahead. Charlotte will down the Minutemen and move on.
St Bonaventure vs. Temple
Like I said, this is irrelevant. Temple gave Villanova their first loss earlier this year, and St Bonny lost by 50…to Mississippi State. They met earlier this season at St Bonaventure, and the Owls won by 18.
These teams are night and day. No analysis is necessary. Nothing has changed. The Owls move on.
Rhode Island vs. St Louis
This might be one of the better games of the entire tournament.
Both teams are trying to fight their way in, but are currently going in opposite directions. Rhode Island is slipping, while St Louis has won eight of their last 10.
The Rams dropped their matchup earlier in the season, but by a mere five points. Not to mention the game was played in St Louis. These teams seem to be of equal skill, and this one is more of a toss-up than anything else.
This game should come down to which team knows how to finish. It doesn’t matter if one team gets on a run halfway through the second half. If the other can take advantage and fight back in the final few minutes, this game can go either way.
In the end, I think the first-round bye hurts St Louis. If Rhode Island does to St Joseph’s what I think they will, their momentum will be too much for the Billikens to handle coming into this game. The Rams should advance in a close one. Don’t be shocked to see overtime.
Dayton vs. Xavier
This is the best rivalry in the conference, and with good reason. They play in the same conference, reside in the same state and are less than 50 miles from each other.
During the season, both teams held their home courts, but Dayton thoroughly embarrassed the Musketeers in their second matchup, winning by 25 over a team that has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen the last two years.
There’s no question: Xavier wants revenge.
While Dayton desperately needs this win to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, I just don’t see it happening. Xavier hasn’t lost since February 6 in Dayton, and I don’t see it happening this time on a neutral court. This loss ends Dayton’s hopes of a bid to the Big Dance, but could land them in the NIT.
Charlotte vs. Richmond
This will either be a great game or a complete blowout.
Each team won one game against the other this season, but on the road. That’s right: neither team defended their home court. Yet it took overtime to derail the 49ers at Halton Arena on Saturday.
Richmond has been spectacular this year, but I’m concerned they may be looking too far ahead to the big tournament. If that happens, Charlotte needs to capitalize and not give the Spiders an inch.
Given this season’s performance, I’d say the 49ers have the edge. But they need to focus or their tournament chances will end on Friday.