Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament Preview

After years of multiple quality teams coming out of the Atlantic 10, this season has been somewhat of a down one in the conference. Only two teams are contending for NCAA Tournament berths, but the conference tournament championship is still wide-open. Several squads have the potential to make a run for the title.
Favorites: St. Joseph's had a disappointing non-league season, but came into conference play and went 14-2. Pat Carroll is one of the best three-point shooters in the country, while Chet Stachitas and Dwayne Lee can also score from the perimeter. Dwayne Jones is one of the best big men in the A-10. George Washington is, by far, the most talented club in the conference. TJ Thompson is a very good point guard, while JR Pinnock is the best scorer in the league--and he comes off the bench. Mike Hall, Omar Williams, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu form one of the most potent frontcourts in the country. Temple is always a tough team with their defensive ability, but John Chaney won't be there to coach due to suspension. They are not the same team without him, but Mardy Collins is arguably the best all-around player in the league.
Sleepers: Dayton is a very balanced club that wins games with its depth and the scoring ability of Monty Scott. Xavier is the site of the tournament, so the Musketeers have an advantage. They also have loads of talent, lead by the deep frontline of Brian Thornton, Justin Doellman, and Justin Cage, all double figure scorers. Stanley Burrell is the club's best point producer. Xavier is deep and has momentum--they have won 7 of 10. Massachusetts has wins over GW and Connecticut and have one of the A-10's best big men in Rashaun Freeman.
Prediction: There is a host of teams, including the host team, possessing the ability to win the title. However, I think that George Washington, despite a fairly disappointing league season, will pull it together and take the automatic bid. The Colonials just have too much talent not to win the mostly medicore A-10. Xavier and St. Joseph's will fight to come out of the other side of the bracket.

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