Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

13 Mar

Atlantic 10

March 14-17

Favorite(s)-St. Louis (24-6 13-3), VCU (24-7 12-4)

The Billikens tragically lost their coach Rick Majerus to heart failure early the season started and have played like a team on a mission for a magical season since.  After starting the season 3-3 St. Louis finished the year by going   12-1 and claiming the Atlantic 10 regular season title.   For all of the talk of how deep the A-10 is St. Louis has wins over every team in the top 7 except for Temple and Dwayne Evans’  12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds a balanced team led by interim head coach Jim Crews.

VCU likes to wreak havoc and that is exactly what they’ve done in its first year in the Atlantic 10.  A 2nd place finish thanks to a swarming defense and a top 10 offense scoring over 78 points a game led by Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham who combine for 30.0 points and 14.1 rebounds.  Even with wins over Memphis and Belmont in the non-conference the Rams’ signature win came at the hands of a 32-point drubbing of Butler on March 2, putting the rest of the conference on notice.

Contender(s)-Butler (24-7 11-5)

Butler got as high as #9 in the country by starting 16-2 including thrilling wins over #1 Indiana and #8 Gonzaga.  Then came a loss to LaSalle which started the Bulldogs on a skid that saw them finish the season 8-5 .  But if there is a team that knows how to put it together in March and be successful it is Brad Stevens and Butler and with a scorer like Rotnei Clarke (16.7 points) capable of putting the team on his back, they have a fighter’s chance.

Team likely to pull an upset-Xavier (17-13 9-7)

I’ve got the Musketeers here for one reason, freshman point guard Semaj Christon and his 15 points a game and the fact that all but 2 of Xavier’s league losses came by 10 points or less.

3 Key Players-Dwayne Evans-St. Louis, Rotnei Clarke-Butler, Khalif Wyatt-Temple

The junior forward is the leading scorer (12.9) and rebounds (7.6) and the 6-5 swingman is as much of a force on the defensive end as on the offensive end.  He has over 100 more rebounds than anyone else on the team, he is also second on the team in steals (38) and blocks (24).  While senior Kwamain Mitchell gets more of the pub, Evans leads this balanced Billiken team.

Rotnei Clarke can shoot and more precisely at 41.7% from behind the arc.  The transfer from Arkansas leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points a game.  The sharpshooter has in-the-gym range and for the Bulldogs to be successful in their first A-10 tournament Clarke must draw the defense out, allowing Butler’s other guards and forwards more room to get to the rim.

The Temple Owls’ senior point guard must use his experience and take over like he did by scoring 20 points in leading Temple to a comeback win over Detroit. His 19.5 points and 4.1 assists lead this senior-laden team and if the Owls are to return to the NCAA tournament it will be Wyatt, in large part that brings them there.

 

 

2013 ATLANTIC 10 TOURNAMENT

March 14-17 Brooklyn,NY

MARCH 14

FIRST ROUND

#8 Richmond vs. #9 Charlotte

#5 Butler vs. #12 Dayton

#7 Xavier vs. #10 St. Joseph’s

#6 Massachusetts vs. #11 George Washington

MARCH 15

QUARTERFINALS

#1 St. Louis vs. #8/9

#4 vs. #5/#12

#2 VCU vs. #7/10

#3 Temple vs. #6/11

MARCH 16

SEMIFINALS

1.

2.

MARCH 17

CHAMPIONSHIP

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