The postseason is here as the women’s Atlantic 10 tournament starts Friday, with familiar foes and a couple of new features.
The location of the A-10 tournament used to be on a rotating schedule, changing from year-to-year, but the format has changed. From now on, all games in the tournament will be played at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md. The change was made because the league wanted a more neutral site, located near the league offices.
As usual though, the top four seeds of the tournament have a first round bye. Xavier received the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the second year in a row. Dayton got the second seed this year and is receiving its first bye in nine years. Temple notched the third seed of the tournament, while Charlotte – the reigning A-10 champion, rounds out the top four seeds.
No. 5 SJU (16-13, 9-5) vs. No. 12 Fordham (8-21, 2-12)
The first game of the tournament after UMass takes on Richmond is the most lopsided matchup of the first round as Fordham will try to upset Saint Joseph’s.
The Rams are now on a seven-game losing streak to end conference play. Fordham will look to take positives out of its most recent loss, 74-59, to No. 1 seed Xavier.
The Rams snuck into the tourney with a tiebreaker between La Salle and Rhode Island. The three-way tie was broken, but still left the Explorers and Fordham tied for the 12 seed. The Rams received the nod after winning a coin-flip for the postseason.
No. 7 SBU (21-8, 9-5) vs. No. 10 SLU (11-18, 5-9)
Although the Bonnies had an impressive 20-win season, they racked up a 9-5 record in conference play, and were tied with St. Joe’s, Duquesne and Charlotte for fourth in the conference.
SBU is now the lowest seed of those four teams, and will face the 10 seed Billikens Friday evening. The Bonnies are on a four-game win streak with victories against George Washington, Richmond, Duquesne and URI. Dana Mitchell leads the Bonnies with 15.3 points per game in conference play.
The Billikens are led by Amanda Kemezys down low. Saint Louis’ center was named to the all-conference second team.
No. 6 Duquesne (19-10, 9-5) vs. No. 11 GW (6-21, 3-11)
The Dukes and Colonials face off in the nightcap Friday night. Duquesne can be proud of a 9-5 conference record, but again, because of the tie-breaker, does not have the privilege of a first round bye.
Samantha Pollino, Keri Pryor and Alex Gensler are Duquesne’s top three scorers. All three average double-digit points per contest.
Although GW was 3-11 in conference play, the Colonials are closest in relation to the site of the tournament in Upper Marlboro. Brooke Wilson is a spark for her team on defense and the boards, and led all freshmen in rebounds and steals on her way to being named to the A-10 All-Rookie team.
No. 1 Xavier (24-3, 13-0) vs. Richmond (18-11, 7-7)/UMass (11-18, 5-9)
Nationally-ranked Xavier will come in as the clear-cut favorites, no matter who wins the game between Richmond and UMass. The Musketeers cruised to an undefeated conference schedule and have one of the most talented rosters in recent A-10 history.
Xavier forward Amber Harris was named the A-10 Player of the Year, just outshining fellow Musketeer Ta’Shia Phillips for the honor.
No. 4 Charlotte (16-12, 9-5) vs. SJU (16-13, 9-5)/Fordham (8-21, 2-12)
The 49ers are primed and ready for the quarterfinal round on Saturday afternoon, but will have to await the winner of the game between the Hawks and Rams.
If St. Joe’s defeats Fordham, the game against Charlotte should be competitive.
No. 2 Dayton (23-6, 11-3) vs. SBU (21-8, 9-5)/SLU (11-18, 5-9)
The Flyers do not have a standout post player, but come into the game with a very balanced team, averaging 42.6 rebounds per game. Dayton has also won eight of its last nine games – the lone loss coming against Xavier in overtime.
No. 3 Temple (22-7, 11-3) vs. Duquesne (19-10, 9-5)/GW (6-21, 3-11)
Temple’s aggressive defense led them all season, but it is uncertain how much offensive firepower the team really has. Shaqwedia Wallace and Kristen McCarthy lead the Owls offensively. The pair has over 100 3-point field goals attempted this season.
Neil Carroll can be reached at email@example.com.