College Basketball Betting: Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview
by Christopher G. Shepard - 03/10/2009
The Xavier Musketeers are the No.1 seed in the Atlantic 10 Championship for the third consecutive year and have been set at 3/2 to win the tournament this year while the Temple Owls have been installed as the No. 4 seed and set at 11/2 to defend their A-10 Championship from March 11-14 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Joining Xavier and Temple with first round byes is the No. 3-seeded Dayton Flyers (a 25-game winner) and the No. 2-seeded Rhode Island Rams. The 2009 A-10 Championship tips off on Wednesday, Mar. 11, at noon as eighth-seeded La Salle (18-12 SU, 9-7 A-10, 13-11-1 ATS) faces No. 9 Saint Louis (17-13 SU, 8-8 A-10, 12-12 ATS), then fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's (16-14 SU, 9-7 A-10, 12-15-1 ATS) faces No. 12 Charlotte (11-19 SU, 5-11 A-10, 8-19-1 ATS) at 2:30 p.m. Seventh-seeded Duquesne (18-11 SU, 9-7 A-10, 11-12 ATS) plays No. 10 UMASS (12-17 SU, 7-9 A-10, 11-14-1 ATS) at 6:30 p.m. and then sixth-seeded Richmond (17-14 SU, 9-7 A-10) goes against No. 11 St. Bonaventure (15-14 SU, 6-10 A-10, 13-10-1) at 9 p.m.
Here is Doc's Sports 2009 Atlantic 10 Tournament preview:
FIRST ROUND BYES:
No. 1 Xavier (3/2) - XU seeks their third conference championship in five years and getting the No. 1 seed is a great way to start. The Musketeers were 12-4 in conference play, which was good enough for them to earn the top seed for the A-10 Tournament. However, at one point earlier in the season Xavier looked like it would run the conference schedule and go undefeated. With four late-season conference losses to Duquesne, Dayton, Charlotte, and Richmond (all on the road) Xavier is far from the conference terminator that they looked like earlier in the season. Then there is that old bugaboo about how well conference champs do in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Xavier was ranked No. 1 in the A-10 tourney and lost to No. 5 St. Josephs. However, they parlayed that loss into a No. 3 seed in the Western Region and went all the way to the regional finals, losing to UCLA. While it won't be a surprise to see Xavier in the finals, it won't be a surprise to see them not in the finals either.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the Quarter-Finals (lose to Temple)
No. 2 Rhode Island (15/4) - URI ended the season in a three-way tie for second place in the A-10 with Dayton and Temple as all three teams had 11-5 conference records. The Rams did it by ending their season winning six of their last seven games; their lone loss was to UMASS by one point in the last game of the season. URI is led by senior guard Jimmy Baron, the coach's son, who is the conference's career leader in three pointers made with 345. In fact Baron also owns the record for most three-pointers made by an opposing team's player at Cameron Indoor Arena on Nov. 16, 2008 when URI almost defeated Duke, 79-82. I like URI to go deep into the tournament and make the finals. The Rams are the second most experienced team in the league and have six seniors and four juniors to rely on during this three-day stretch.
Tournament Prediction: Lose in the Finals (lose to Temple)
No. 3 Dayton (7/4) - The Flyers need to do well in the A-10 Championship to solidify their NCAA Tournament bid. Dayton, however, is in unchartered territory as they have never won more than 25 games in their program's history. A second round win would give Dayton their most wins ever. But to do this they will have to get by Richmond or St. Bonaventure. Dayton should be able to beat either team and earn a trip to the semi-finals against Rhode Island. Rhode Island beat the Flyers on Feb. 25 at home, 93-91, as six-point favorites in overtime. Dayton closed out their season losing three of their last five games but should do enough to make it to the semi-finals largely in part to Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the semi-finals (lose to Rhode Island)
No. 4 Temple (11/2) - The last team to win back-to-back A-10 championships was Temple in 2000-01. They'll attempt that feat again this year. Regardless of who the Owls play in their second round match, Temple should be able to eliminate either Charlotte or St. Josephs and move on to the next round. Naismith finalist and all-A-10 first teamer Dionte Christmas leads Temple. However, Christmas takes a back seat to the Owls' defense, which makes them very dangerous in this tournament. Add that to the motivation that the winner of the A-10 gets and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Temple right now is on the outside looking in for a tournament bid. Winning the tournament would most likely give the A-10 three berths rather than the two they have locked up right now. Of course, they'll need to get past Xavier in the semi-finals for this to happen. The Owls lost at home to Xavier on Feb. 26 by 14 points, but, as I stated earlier, now there is motivation for the Owls to win as their NCAA berth is not guaranteed. But making to the semi-finals in the tourney will increase their chances of getting a bid to the big dance.
Tournament Prediction: Tournament Champion
No. 5 St. Josephs (10/1) - Following the Hawks all season I was not the only one surprised with their No. 5 ranking. In a word this is too high for this team despite having all A-10 first-teamer Ahmad Nivens. The Hawks have lost six of their last eight games and even in their wins have looked less than dominant when you consider those wins game against cellar-dweller Fordham and the over-achieving Bonnies. St. Joe's played against Charlotte on Jan. 18 and won and covered as seven-point favorites, 78-69. Tomorrow I see a different result as the Hawks get exposed by a Charlotte team whose offensive strategy seems to be to toss up three-pointers when they get across half-court and sometimes this works.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the first round (lose to Charlotte)
No. 6 Richmond (10/1) - When the tournament starts on Wednesday for the Spiders their last regular season memory will be of Kevin Anderson single-handedly ripping apart Xavier on March 7. Anderson dropped 29 points on the No. 17-ranked Musketeers (who, it might be argued, had played their season finale against the Flyers earlier in the week and basically mailed it in against Richmond) in his 40 minutes on the court. Perhaps more impressive was that Anderson did not turn the ball over and he had four rebounds, one assist and two steals. If Anderson continues his excellent play he'll be a real boon to leading scorer Gonzalvez, who was held to eight points against Xavier. This is the same Richmond team that almost upset Syracuse at the beginning of the year and gave Wake Forrest all they could handle as well. The Spiders need to avoid a letdown in major way after their huge win against Xavier. They can't take the Bonnies lightly, but they should be able to get by St. Bonaventure and give Dayton all they can handle. If you are looking for tournament dark horse you could do worse than backing the Spiders.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the second round (lose to Dayton)
No. 7 Duquesne (18/1) - The good news is that the Dukes, whose 18 victories are their highest total since the 1980-81 campaign, have over-achieved this year and will face a tired UMASS team. Remember, the Dukes were picked to finish No. 12 in the A-10 in the A-10 Coaches Preseason Poll. The Dukes will need to lean on senior point guard Aaron Jackson, who was voted to the All-A-10 First Team this year. Jackson leads Duquesne in scoring (18.3) and assists (5.8) and enters the A-10 Tournament this week just 10 assists shy of the school's single-season record of 178, set by Norm Nixon in 1977. I like Duquesne to win their first round match against UMASS because of the lack of depth for the Minutemen. The bad news for Duquesne is that their reward for beating UMASS will be to face Xavier.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the second round (lose to Rhode Island)
No. 8 La Salle (15/1) - The Explorers could not have done more to close out their season. LaSalle finished the season on a high-note winning their last four games SU and ATS. However, the problem with this team is that they only have key wins over Temple and St. Joseph's. Against the cream of the A-10, Xavier, Richmond and Dayton; the Explorers lost by 20, 13 and two points, respectively. However, against the middle of the pack La Salle has dominated. La Salle will face a St. Louis team that only won two conference games on the road while they're 5-3 against conference foes on the road.
Tournament Prediction: Out in the second round (lose to Xavier)
Wednesday, March 11
#8 La Salle vs. #9 Saint Louis - 12:00
#5 Saint Joseph's vs. #12 Charlotte - 2:30
#7 Duquesne vs. #10 Massachusetts - 6:30
#6 Richmond vs. #11 St. Bonaventure - 9:00
Thursday, March 12
#1 Xavier vs. #8/#9 winner - 12:00 (CBS C)
#4 Temple vs. #5/#12 winner - 2:30 (CBS C)
#2 Rhode Island vs. #7/#10 winner - 6:30 (CBS C)
#3 Dayton vs. #6/#11 winner - 9:00 (CBS C)
Friday, March 13
Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner - 6:30 (CBS C)
Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner - 9:00 (CBS C)
Saturday, March 14
Finals - 6:00 (ESPN2)
Odds to win the 2009 A-10 Tournament*
Dayton Flyers - 7/4
Duquesne Dukes - 18/1
La Salle - 15/1
UMASS - 25/1
Rhode Island - 15/4
Richmond - 10/1
St. Josephs - 10/1
Temple - 11/2
Xavier - 3/2
Field (any other team) - 25/1
*Odds courtesy of Bodog