2018 Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament Odds and Expert Predictions
It has been a rough year for the Atlantic 10. This league is currently ranked No. 11 in the country, its lowest rating in over a decade and the first time since 2007 in which they weren't in the Top 10 conference in the country. And if form holds this could be the first season since 2007 in which fewer than three teams from the A-10 make the NCAA Tournament.
That said, this is still generally one of the best and most entertaining mid-major conference tournaments in the country. Rhode Island is making a bid for the first back-to-back tournament titles since Temple's three-peat from 2008-2010. And St. Bonaventure is attempting to shore up its resume to earn the league a second bid to the Big Dance.
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The Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament begins on Wednesday, March 7, at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Here is Doc's Sports 2018 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament preview (with projected futures odds in parentheses):
The Favorite: Rhode Island (+175)
Danny Hurley's squad has clearly been the best team in the A-10 all season long. They started the year 21-3, including wins over Seton Hall and Providence, and opened league play 13-0. However, the Rams have shown some vulnerability over the last few weeks, losing three of their last five games and needing overtime to take out flailing LaSalle. This is the last go-round for URI's superb senior class, and Jared Terrell, E.C. Matthews and Jarvis Garrett comprise one of the best mid-major perimeter trios in the nation. The No. 1 seed hasn't won this league in five years, though, and we have to see if Rhode Island's stunning choke at Davidson to close league play will linger at all.
The Contender: St. Bonaventure (+200)
Rhode Island is backing its way into the A-10 Tournament. But St. Bonaventure is absolutely rolling on their way down to Washington. The Bonnies have won 12 straight and haven't lost since mid-January. This team beat Maryland and Syracuse in the nonconference and has a sensational senior backcourt of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. The Bonnies are rock solid on both ends of the court, and they head to the capital on a savvy 7-3 against the spread rush.
The Sleeper: Davidson (+250)
Bob McKillop's squad proved in the last week of the season that they are absolutely capable of winning this league tournament and stealing a bid for the league. They lost on the road at St. Bonaventure in triple overtime, 117-113, and then turned around and beat Rhode Island in the final seconds to close the regular season. Peyton Aldridge is always going to be one of the best players on the floor, and if the Wildcats are knocking down shots - they are in the Top 40 in field goal percentage and 3-point shooting - they are going to be tough to beat.
The Spoiler: St. Joseph's (+1200)
It has been a brutal year for the Hawks, who entered the season with a lot of promise. They are barely .500 on the season. But they used a 7-1 late-season run to work their way into the NO. 4 seed, and this team is playing its best basketball at the right time. Shavar Newkirk and James Demery are a dynamic senior duo and are playing to extend their careers. And they won't be scared of potential semifinal foe Rhode Island, a team that they embarrassed 78-48 just last week.
Early Round Game To Watch: VCU vs. Rhode Island (Noon, Wednesday, March 9)
I have no idea why leagues still make their No. 1 seeds play their first game at noon. I think it puts those top teams at a clear disadvantage, and the Atlantic 10 Tournament is the perfect example. The top seed has lost its first game four times in the last seven years, and one of those three wins came on a buzzer beater. The No. 1 seed in this tournament has won their first game by 10 or more points only two times in the last 10 years. This is not a very good VCU team, and they have lost six of their last nine. But the Rams would be playing closer to home, and they have just enough talent to make things uncomfortable for the top seed. We will see if stumbling URI has enough to overcome the curse of the top seed.
2018 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Predictions: Things generally get pretty crazy in this conference tournament. The No. 1 seed always seems to struggle, and that opens the door for a bid-stealing squad to come out of nowhere and cut down the nets. However, I think that if URI can survive that first game, which has been such an obstacle for past A-10 regular-season champions, that there isn't anyone else in the top of the bracket that can slow them down. St. Bonaventure is on fire. But they could have their hands full with a quirky Richmond squad. And Davidson is beatable simply because their defense wanes. I can't believe I'm doing it, but as long as they survive that first game I am actually calling for the Top 2 seeds to make it to the finals, with Rhode Island cutting down the nets.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has posted 10 of 11 winning seasons. He is looking for a monster March run and will have an 8-Unit Conference Tournament Game of the Year this week. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here .
Read more articles by Robert Ferringo
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