By Paul Gotham
Three weeks from today the Atlantic 10’s quarter-finals will take place at the Barclays Center. Two days later is Selection Sunday. Last year five A-10 teams grabbed spots in the NCAA Tournament. Six #A10MBB teams rank top 50 in the current Ratings Percentage Index. St. Louis (11-0) has made it a battle for second, and there are many in the fray.
Here are this weekend’s game in order of priority:
VCU (20-6/8-3) at UMass (20-5/7-4) 7 pm ESPN2
Shake and Bake or (circa 1982) Stray Cats. This one is Built For Speed. Whatever your flavor, the Minutemen and Rams will Rock this Town. UMass (73.6) and VCU (72.9) sit one and two in possessions. Minuteman Chaz Williams (7.3) ranks third in the nation handing out assists. VCU’s Briante Weber (3.73) leads the land in steals. When it is all said and done, Treveon Graham (15.7 ppg/6.9 rpg/1.9 apg) will make the difference for VCU. The Minutemen’s inability to handle pressure will show itself.
VCU by nine.
George Washington (20-6/8-4) at No. 10 St. Louis (24-2/11-0) 8 pm SNY/CSN MA+/FOXMW
If this game were to take place in Foggy Bottom, the Colonials might end SLU’s streak. At Chaifetz Arena? The Bills are likely to make it 19 straight. Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen must dominate the paint for GW to win. Dwayne Evans (6-6, 230), as he usually does, will create matchup problems. Do you cover him with a guard? Or a forward? He has an answer for either. Jordair Jett wins any battle GW sends at him.
SLU by six.
Dayton (18-8/6-5) at Duquesne (11-14/3-9) 2 pm
A homecoming of sorts for UD Head Coach Archie Miller. His Flyers, winners of five straight, travel to Pittsburgh and battle a Duquesne club which has taken two of its three conference wins at home. After dropping five of six to start conference play, the Flyers have held opponents under 67 points in their recent streak. Ovie Soko (18.2 ppg/ 8.0 rpg) paces the Dukes. Devin Oliver (12.3 ppg/ 6.8 rpg/ 2.3 apg) leads Dayton. A win and the Flyers could be knocking on the door of the A-10’s top four.
Dayton by five.
Rhode Island (11-16/2-10) at St. Bonaventure (16-10/6-6) 4 pm
Winners of three straight, including two on the road, the Bonnies haven’t had a run like this since…Andrew Nicholson roamed the hardwood of the Reilly Center. SBU will retire Nicholson’s #44 Saturday. Former teammates Matthew Wright, Charlon Kloof, Marquise Simmons, Jordan Gathers and Youssou Ndoye keep it rolling for Bona.
Brown and White by six.
Fordham (9-15/2-9) at St. Joseph’s (18-7/8-3) 2 pm
La Salle (12-13/4-7) at Richmond (17-9/7-4) 4 pm CBS Sports Network
From the not-so-wayback machine: