2019 Atlantic 10 Tournament Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
It has been another rough year for the Atlantic 10. Last season wasn't great. But Davidson's surprise win in last season's league tournament - and a surprise at-large bid for St. Bonaventure - helped secure the league's 12 th straight season ranked as a Top 10 league in college basketball.
However, right now the A-10 is rated as the No. 12 conference in the nation. VCU is the only team in the league anywhere close to consideration for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. And it looks like this could be the first season since 2007 in which fewer than three teams from the A-10 make the NCAA Tournament.
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The Atlantic 10 has been leaking oil since conference realignment. But this is still an outstanding league, and it still makes for one of the best and most entertaining postseason tournaments in the nation. This year's tournament will be held in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and runs from March 13-17. Here is Doc's Sports 2019 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament preview (with projected futures odds in parentheses):
The Favorite: VCU (-110)
The Rams are a traditional mid-major power in college basketball. I feel like they have been a bit under-the-radar this season, though, and they have coasted to the regular-season title on the back of 12 straight wins. Eight of those 12 wins were by 10 or more points. VCU's typical dominating defense is intact. They are in the Top 10 in points allowed (No. 8), field goal defense (No. 6) and 3-point defense (No. 2). The problem is putting the ball in the basket. VCU is athletic and can convert turnovers to points with the best of them. But if you shut down the lane and take care of the ball, the Rams offense dries up quickly. They are No. 335 in 3-point shooting, and other than Marcus Evans they don't have too many guys that can create their own shot. VCU does go 10-deep. So they have options and they won't wear out. They also have an easy path to the finals, and they will be tough to knock off.
The Contender: Dayton (+270)
The Flyers have been close to having a great year but just can't get over the hump. They almost beat Virginia. They almost beat Mississippi State. They almost beat VCU - twice. Can they finally get over the hump? If they do, it will be on the backs of forwards Obi Toppin and Josh Cunningham. Dayton plays a slow, methodical style. They are
No. 2 in the nation in field goal offense, mainly because they get good shots near the basket. However, if this group is to find another gear, they need one of their guards - most likely sophomore Jalen Crutcher - to step up and grab the bull by the horns.
The Sleeper: Davidson (+350)
This is almost exactly the same position that the Wildcats were in heading into last year's tournament, stalking the leaders just off the pace. They will try to pull another rabbit out of their hat this March and try to show a strong finishing kick. Davidson is the counter to the grinding defensive approach of VCU and Dayton. The Wildcats win with offensive execution and slick shooting. Backcourt mates Jon Axel Gudmundsson and Kellan Grady both average 17 points per game, and the Wildcats have six reliable shooters that can knock down outside shots. Just because this team can score doesn't mean they don't defend. They are No. 22 in field goal defense. They'll need to shoot well and defend even better if they want to become the first the first team since Temple (2008-2010) to win back-to-back A-10 titles.
The Spoiler: St. Louis (+2200)
I feel like St. Louis has been one of the bigger underachievers in A-10 play this season. I had this group pegged as a league contender. Nonconference wins over Seton Hall and Butler, close calls against Pitt and Houston, and a 5-0 start to league play, only fueled that belief. But it didn't work out. The Bilikens' offensive shortcomings were apparent during a 5-8 slide. If they are going to make any noise in Brooklyn, they have to find a way to put the ball in the basket. If they do, then they are capable of wreaking havoc in the bottom of the bracket. Any team that can defend like this squad, and that possesses as much experience, should make for a pretty live underdog.
2019 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Predictions: I don't think I've ever seen the Atlantic 10 as top-heavy as it is this year. VCU, Davidson and Dayton are way ahead of the field. And most of the rest of the teams - basically seeds No. 7-14 - are just awful. So I'm not seeing a lot of significant upsets. I think that George Mason and St. Louis are two potential low seeds that can make some noise. Beyond that, I think that VCU and Davidson are on a bit of a collision course. Davidson won the only regular-season meeting between these two. I also have a really hard time picturing the A-10 as a one-bid league. So I will call for VCU not to win the tournament and for the Wildcats to sneak in for the league's second bid.
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 12 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 .
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