New writer Sam Blum is making his Big Apple Buckets debut with a mid-season A-10 Power Rankings. Sam is going to help us focus more on the Atlantic 10.
A-10 Power Rankings:
16) Duquesne Dukes
High Point: The conference season certainly hasn’t been one to remember for the Dukes, who have yet to capture their elusive first A-10 win. The non-conference might be a source of inspiration for Jim Ferry’s squad. Duquesne had a stretch where they won five of six, which concluded with a 60-56 upset win against the Big-12’s West Virginia at home.
Low Point: The Dukes are currently mired in a nine game slide and haven’t won since December 19. During that stretch, the closest finish they had was a seven point loss to open conference play at Fordham.
Most Valuable Player: On a team that features 11 underclassmen on its roster, senior leader Sean Johnson has done a nice job stepping up in what has become a lost season. He leads the team in scoring at 13 points per game.
Looking Forward: Unfortunately, being a young team with a new coach probably isn’t the best recipe for success in a conference like the A-10. Getting wins will premium for the Dukes. They will likely have their best chance when they host Rhode Island next Saturday.
End Of The Season Projection: At this point, it would be surprising for the Dukes to muster a win in conference. The A-10 is very deep this year, and even some of the so called “bad” teams would still be able to handle whatever Duquesne can bring at them.
15) Rhode Island Rams
High Point: When the Rams left St. Louis with an 82-80 overtime win back on January 19, they probably thought they were going to have a very successful conference season. Despite the magnitude of that upset, things have not gone as planned for Rhody.
Low Point: Coming off their win against the Billikens, Rhode Island had a good chance to pick up some momentum in their next two games against George Washington and Fordham. Instead they dropped both by a combined four points and have not won since.
MVP: Junior Xavier Munford has led the scoring charge for the Rams averaging 17.3 ppg. The next leading scorer is Nikola Malesevic at 11 ppg.
Looking Forward: The Rams have a lot to look forward to. Coach Danny Hurley led a five win Wagner team to 25 wins in just two seasons. Now the coach of Rhode Island, Hurley is hoping lightning can strike twice.
End Of The Season Projection: It’s not likely that Rhode Island occupies the 15 spot for the rest of the year. The Rams have enough talent and coaching that if they can put together a string of 2-3 wins, they can propel themselves into the top 12 seeding, which grants them an A-10 tournament berth.
14) Fordham Rams
High Point: Down by 10 at the Barclays Center against Princeton with less than three minutes to go, Ryan Canty missed a wide-open dunk that would have cut the deficit to eight. The Rams were able to regroup and pull of the comeback win, led by an amazing effort from Brendan Frazier.
Low Point: Senior superstar Chris Gaston injured his knee in the second game of the season against Pitt. The Rams ended up dropping eight of their first nine games to start the year.
MVP: Although Chris Gaston is undoubtedly their best player; Ryan Canty has been spectacular for Fordham. The sophomore has more than doubled all of his points, rebounds, blocks, and assists from the season before.
Looking Forward: The Rams just seem to be getting better and better under Tom Pecora. They need to use their best asset, Rose Hill Gym, to help them into the A-10 tournament. The Rams are much better at home, and can definitely pull off some upsets up in the Bronx. Give the Rams some credit. They are no longer the worst team in the A-10.
End Of The Season Projection: The Rams are a fickle team. They could just as easily get 6 or 7 conference wins as they could stick with two. The answer is probably somewhere in between. Whether or not that’s enough for the A-10 tournament has yet to be determined.
13) St. Bonaventure Bonnies
High Point: The Bonnies picked up two straight road wins against Temple and St. Joes. Junior Matthew Wright led the team with by having the two highest scoring games of his career while averaging 20 in both contests. Getting those types of wins away from your home court is what separates good from great in the A-10.
Low Point: Sandwiched somewhere in the middle of their season long six game losing streak was a 19-point A-10 opening loss to George Washington. EESH.
MVP: Senior Demetrius Conger has done everything he can to stop the bleeding that the Bonnies have suffered from having their superstar, and 2011-2012 A-10 player of the year Andrew Nicholson graduate. Conger has averaged 14.2 ppg.
Looking forward: The Bonnies will need to rely on their offense to keep them in games. They average over 71 ppg, which is near the top of the A-10. They are not the team they were last year, but are certainly capable of making this a fun season.
End Of The Season Projection: If the Bonnies win their gimmes, and pull off a few more upsets, then they are a middle of the road A-10 team. If they don’t then they are a cellar dweller. Simple as that.
12) Dayton Flyers
High Point: Dayton looked like they might have top-25 potential at the beginning of the season going 8-2, which included a win at Alabama.
Low Point: I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything worse now a days in college basketball than to lose to USC. A normally pretty deep Flyer bench scored just 10 points total in that game.
MVP: Kevin Dillard has averaged double figures throughout his entire collegiate career. 2012-2013 has been no different as he leads the team in both ppg (14.5) and assists (4.7).
Looking Forward: Coming off a 29-point loss to St. Louis doesn’t instill hope in many. They need to get back on track at home this week against St. Josephs and Temple.
End Of The Season Projection: Dayton could be a decent NIT team if they finish off the conference season somewhat strong. In all likelihood, though, they are a first round loss in the A-10 tournament.
11) George Washington:
High Point: GW won 4 out of 6 games in conference play that included victories over St. Bonaventure, UMass, and Charlotte. Not too shabby for a team picked to finish 13th in the preseason poll.
Low Point: George Washington dropped a home game to Mount St. Mary’s. If the season ended today the Mountaineers wouldn’t even make the NEC tournament. Yikes.
MVP: Isaiah Armwood has done a little of everything for the Colonials. He leads the team in scoring with 12.2 and his 8.3 rebounds per game is nearly double the second best rebounder on the team.
Looking Forward: The Colonials are one of those teams that have kind of been towards the bottom of the A-10 for a while. They are poised to take that next step this season with their 4-3-conference record.
End Of The Season Projection: They are worse than their 4-3 A-10 record would suggest. I see the Colonials finishing with about seven conference wins. It really boils down to the fact that GW has a bunch of decent scorers, but no one who really can take over a game. That is certainly a plus in this conference.
10) Richmond Spiders
High Point: Led by a breakout performance by Kendall Anthony, the Spiders took down then No. 19 VCU in overtime at home in what was an epic battle of Richmond area teams.
Low point: Richmond does not have too many bad losses on their résumé, and a road loss to Ohio certainly doesn’t count as one. However a 25-point loss to a beatable team isn’t something to take lightly. Richmond did rebound nicely to win its next five games.
MVP: Richmond has three players averaging more than 13 points per game. Darien Brothers has taken the “go-to” guy mentality as shooting a blistering 46% from three and 88% from the line.
Looking Forward: Richmond needs to play more consistently. They certainly have the capability to be a top tier team in the A-10. It just seems that whenever they get some momentum, they don’t take advantage. The next six games for the Spiders are all-winnable and will decide whether this team is for real.
End Of The Season Projection: Because of the light schedule this team faces down the stretch, it is definitely possible that the spiders finish as one of the top five or six teams in the conference.
9) Temple Owls
High Point: Temple shocked the world when they upset Syracuse in front of an orange-clad Madison Square Garden crowd in December. Khalif Wyatt was 15-15 from the line and finished with 33 points.
Low Point: Just days before beating Syracuse, people in Philly were scratching their heads after a 10 point home loss to Canisius, a team picked to finish second to last in the MAAC.
MVP: One thing that sets the Owls apart from some of the weaker teams in the conference is a go-to scorer. Khalif Wyatt has taken that role this year and ran with it. He leads the teams in scoring (18.8) and assists (4.0).
Looking Forward: Temple has earned the right to never be doubted in the A-10 conference. Even with a 3-4-conference record, they are still one of the most dangerous schools in the conference. They need to reassert their standing in the conference before they fall into the abyss that is the middle of the A-10.
End Of The Season Projection: Temple can and will be an NCAA tournament team this year. They have experience, talent, and good guard play. They need a little more balance in their scoring. If they can get that, then they have the makings of a successful postseason team.