The Atlantic 10 Tournament starts today with a new format where all first round games are played at the home court of the higher seed, while the remainder of the tournament will be played in Atlantic City, N.J. The regular season was one of the most competitive the conference has seen in years.
Temple and Xavier shared the regular season championship, but both teams will have to put their success behind them with a pool of teams looking to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Richmond and Saint Louis join the regular season champs with automatic first round byes and will play on March 12. Here is a look at the first round matchups going on today.
No. 8 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 9 Duquesne
The Dukes have been a team that has become notorious for bursting the bubbles of teams looking to make the NCAA Tournament. Now it has to beat perhaps the hottest team in the first round, which won four of its last five games.
The Bonnies (14-15, 7-9 A-10) played the Dukes (16-14, 7-9 A-10) twice and split the series. SBU lost the first game by a point on Jan. 23, but then took a commanding 92-80 win on March 3. Duquesne had trouble defending Chris Matthews and Andrew Nicholson, who finished with 21 points each on a combined 13-for-20 shooting night.
The winner will play Temple at noon on Friday.
No. 5 Rhode Island vs. No. 12 Saint Joseph’s
The Rams blasted the Hawks, 101-74, in their only meeting of the year. But URI has shown more of its vulnerability as of late, despite being the highest seed to play in the first round.
The Rams (21-8, 9-7 A-10) are coming off a last-second loss to Massachusetts and are 2-5 in their last seven games. They haven’t won back-to-back games since the beginning of January so consistency has been one of the biggest problems.
However, St. Joseph’s (11-19, 5-11 A-10) has been facing many of its own struggles despite a two-game winning streak. It recently beat George Washington and La Salle, but lost five straight games before that with losses to both the Musketeers and Charlotte by more than 30 points. The winner will play the Billikens.
No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 George Washington
Despite an impressive record during their non-conference schedule, the Flyers have struggled in their last seven games with their only wins coming against Massachusetts and the Explorers.
Dayton (19-11, 8-8 A-10) blew out UMass by 28 points and has been competitive against the best of the A-10, but hasn’t found a way to actually win. The Flyers may have caught a break against their first round opponent, the Colonials, who they beat by 15 points on Jan. 20.
But recently, GW (16-13, 6-10 A-10) has been on a bit of a run with a 4-3 record in its last seven games. The biggest win was a 75-70 win against Charlotte on Feb. 27.
It now hopes to pull a similar type of upset over the Flyers in order to face Xavier in the second round.
No. 6 Charlotte vs. No. 11 Massachusetts
The 49ers are currently on a three-game losing streak and haven’t found a way to pick themselves back up after losing to Dayton, 75-47.
Charlotte (19-11, 9-7 A-10) now has to face the Minutemen, who are hoping to build off a season-saving win over URI. The last time these two teams met, guard Derrio Green scored a career-high 34 points at the Mullins Center while the 49ers went on a 15-3 run to ultimately take control of the game.
UMass (11-19, 5-1 A-10) shot 4-for-28 from 3-point range and 34.3 percent from the field as the 49ers won 72-58. If Charlotte pulls off a win, it will face the Spiders, who it currently has a series split with over two games.
Adam Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.