College Basketball: 2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament Predictions and Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/7/2012
With as much depth and talent as any mid-major league in the country the Atlantic 10 Tournament should be one of the most competitive and hard-fought March Madness brackets played this weekend. With as many as eight teams with a realistic chance to win the A-10 tournament a lot of teams on the bubble should be watching this one closely this week and hoping that a team from this league doesn’t steal a bid.
The Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament begins Friday, March 9, and is being held in Atlantic City. Here is Doc’s Sports 2012 Atlantic 10 Tournament predictions with betting odds:
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The Favorite: Temple (+175)
For my money the Owls are among the two or three best mid-major teams in the nation. Despite battling injuries all season long this Temple team played the No. 20 schedule in the nation and did so at a high level. They scored big wins over Wichita State, Villanova and Duke this year and this team has experience and confidence heading into the season’s final month. Ramone Moore is one of the top shooting guards in the east and Khalif Wyatt is a slick swingman. But the key is Juan Fernandez. He is clutch and creative, and this senior holds the key for this Temple team. He needs to defend better, but if Fernandez gets hot this team will be tough to beat.
The Contender: St. Louis (+125)
Technically, the Billikens are the favorites to cut down the nets in Atlantic City even though they are the No. 2 seed. This team has the most depth and they have the most consistent outside shooting. But they did lose their only game against Temple – at home – and have never won this conference title. St. Louis has just two seniors (Brian Conklin and Kyle Cassity) and they already know that they will be in the NCAA Tournament. Their execution is impeccable but they may not be as motivated as teams like Xavier and Temple. But if this team gets hot from the outside they can put people’s lights out. They have won eight of nine games and every win has been by eight points or less, so I wouldn’t be in a hurry to bet against this group.
The Sleeper: Xavier (+500)
Your guess is as good as mine as to which Xavier team is going to show up this weekend. The Musketeers have alternated wins and losses over their last nine games and they are just 6-6 in their last 12. This is the same team that handled Vanderbilt, Purdue and Cincinnati in the nonconference and surged to the No. 8 spot in the country. But they have gone just 11-11 since. This is an upperclassmen-dominated team and this is the last shot for guys like Tu Holloway, Kenny Frease and Andre Walker. Xavier is an NCAA Tournament bubble team and they may need two wins to secure an at-large bid. They are talented enough to win three games in this tourney and punch their own ticket. And they are shaky enough to get knocked off in their opener and go to the NIT.
No. 1 Temple (-7.5) vs. No. 8 Massachusetts (Noon, Thursday, March 9)
These are two fast-paced teams and this one should be played at a frenzied pace. The matchup to watch is at the point guard position, with Fernandez checking Chaz Williams. These two played a 90-88 overtime thriller in Philadelphia just last week and this should be another great game.
No. 4 St. Bonaventure (+1.5) vs. No. 5 St. Joseph’s (2:30 p.m., Thursday, March 9)
This should be one of the best games of the tournament and either of these two teams could be a spoiler. The Bonnies rely on Andrew Nicholson, one of the best forwards in the country. They are a much better home team, but this senior is going to go out swinging for St. Bonaventure. St. Joseph’s lost the only meeting this year in overtime and this team is among the most battle-tested teams in the league. St. Joe’s has beaten Drexel, Villanova and Creighton this year and their last two losses have either been in OT or by three points. They will fight to the bitter end as well.
No. 2 St. Louis (-6) vs. No. 7 LaSalle (6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 9)
LaSalle has been one of the biggest surprises in the A-10 this year. After several years of underachieving, this year’s team found a chemistry that had been lacking and parlayed it into a 21-win regular season. They hit the skids later in the year, losing five of six games in February, but four of those losses came by five points or less. St. Louis had the upper hand in the first meeting, winning by eight, but this Explorers team has a little magic in them.
No. 3 Xavier (-2) vs. No. 6 Dayton (9 p.m., Thursday, March 9)
This will be another game that in most years would have been worthy of an A-10 Final. Dayton seniors Paul Williams and Chris Johnson are wrapping up two of the winningest careers in school history and will be a tough out. The key matchup here is between Holloway and Dayton point guard Kevin Dillard. The Southern Illinois transfer is the unquestioned leader, and whoever gets the better of that one-on-one could be the guy marching on.
Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Predictions
I think that we’re going to see a low-ranked team break through on one half of the bracket. But it is nearly impossible to guess which one. It would not stun me if any of these eight teams win this tournament. I actually think that No. 1 seed Temple – although being the obvious best team – has the toughest road to the Finals. So I think that they will take the upset and regroup for an NCAA Tournament run. Instead, I’ll say that the winner of the St. Louis-Xavier semifinal will cut down the nets this weekend.
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors nearly $7,300 in the last two months. Another strong card is coming today and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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