The Duquesne Dukes and Xavier Musketeers, who moved into the No. 15 spot in the AP poll this week, are both 2-0 and five teams are 1-0 after the first week of conference play as tough Atlantic 10 matchups continue this week on the road to the A-10 Championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City from March 11-14.
Last week teams favored in conference play went an astounding 9-1 straight-up and against the spread with George Washington, a 1.5-point home 'chalk' against Richmond, as the lone SU and ATS loss. Gamblers should be aware that the over has cashed in St. Bonaventure's last four games while the under is on a three-game streak in Richmond's games.
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St. Bonaventure is 6-0 straight-up and 4-0 ATS on the road this year. If you are thinking of investing in the Dayton Flyers take a look at the lineup before game time since the Flyers are 27-4 with sophomore forward Chris Wright in the lineup. However, even good luck charm Wright couldn't help Dayton at UMASS as the Flyers had their six-game win streak broken in on the road.
Undervalued ATS Team
The Dukes (11-4 SU, 6-3 ATS, 2-0 A-10) have quietly moved into first place in the conference standings with a pair wins over conference foes. The Dukes 6-3 ATS record is second best in the conference, slightly behind the Richmond Spiders (9-6 SU, 6-2 ATS, 1-0 A-10).
A look at the Dukes and the Spiders' lines for their conference tilts show that oddsmakers are still unsure of their strengths. Duquesne was listed as a one-point 'chalk' at St. Bonaventure and won by 18 points. Richmond, by far a better team this year than the woeful Colonials, was also listed as a 1.5-point road dog. The Spiders won outright by 12 points.
This week Duquesne has a pair of winnable games when they host the Colonials tonight and then Dayton on Saturday giving the Dukes a great a chance to go 4-0 and stay in first place in the A-10 Conference standings. The Spiders travel out of conference to Virginia Tech tonight but then return home on the 17th where they will try to stop the road juggernaut that is St. Bonaventure and keep the Bonnies from winning their seventh consecutive road game.
Overvalued ATS Teams
It looks like the Charlotte 49ers (5-9 SU, 5-7-1 ATS, 0-1 A-10) are back to their losing and non-covering ways as they lost both their games this week. You could tell the 49ers were deflated after their opening A-10 Conference road loss as 3.5-point underdogs at Duquesne last Wednesday. But you can't give up 10 field goals from beyond the arc and expect to win on the road in conference play. Then on Saturday Charlotte hosted Tulsa as 3.5-point favorites and despite forcing 17 turnovers lost outright by 15! With half the season gone Charlotte is not worth your investment in or out of conference play.
ATS Surprise of the Week
The Rhode Island Rams (11-5 SU, 6-4-1 ATS, 0-1 A-10) host the Xavier Musketeers (13-2 SU, 7-6 ATS, 2-0 A-10) on Jan. 15. The Rams are coming off a bitter 92-86, three OT loss at St. Joseph's (7-7 SU, 5-6-1 ATS, 1-0 A-10) in their A-10 opener as one-point underdogs on Jan. 10. Senior Ahmad Nivens' 28 points and the Hawks' blistering 59.4 percent shooting from the field proved too hard to stop for the Rams.
Xavier, on a three-game win streak, has had a pair of easy wins to start off their A-10 season, destroying St. Louis as 15-point favorites, 70-44, and then bullying Fordham in the Bronx to the tune of 86-60. The game was perhaps a bit closer than the score indicates as the Rams' played superior ball in the first five minutes of the second half as Fordham nailed four trey's in a row on their way to an 18-4 run to bring the score to 48-49. This was as close as Fordham would get before Xavier pulled away for good. Things will get a lot tougher for Xavier in the third conference game against the sharp-shooting Rams.
The good news for the Rams is that senior guard Jimmy Barron has 293 three-pointers including 14 games in his career with at least five treys. Barron holds the record for most three pointers scored at Cameron Indoor by an opposing player with the eight he dropped on Duke on Nov. 16.
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This matchup should be one of those wild and exciting games that A-10 fans have come to expect. I think the Rams can slow senior BJ Raymond from nailing too many three pointers and play stingy defense against the Musketeers' big men (Xavier held a 34-10 scoring advantage over Fordham in the paint). I like the Rams to cover the spread and win outright on Thursday night as a likely small home dog.