The Atlantic 10 has had some ups and downs. There are not as many heavy hitters at the top as compared to previous seasons. We’ve seen some new head coaches stepping in with VCU and Dayton which might point to both of them having some hiccups in their non-conference. The leagues top two teams, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure, have both had stellar non-conference results. The Bonnies sit at 10-2 with losses to a mediocre Niagara team and a top ten opponent in TCU, but winning match-ups over against Maryland, and at Syracuse. The Rams have pulled off great wins over Seton Hall and Providence without their premier scorer in E.C. Matthews.
With the Bonnies and Atlantic 10 season coming up within a week we wanted to do roundtable featuring personalities with all different perspectives of the conference as a whole.
- Grant Labedz (@A10Talk)
- Ian Nolan (@BonaBlog)
- Mike Lindsley (@MikeLSports)
- Kyle Allan and Alec Walt (@Schmidt_Talking)
1. What grade would you give the Bonnies entering Atlantic 10 play?
Labedz: A. Would be lower if Jaylen Adams was healthy for the entirety. All things considered though, the Bonnies had a great showing.
Nolan: A-. Opening night loss to Niagara, ranked outside the top 200 is the only thing from keeping this rating an A or higher. Bonas went 3-1 vs. top 100 teams and their only other loss to TCU is looking better and better by the day as they appear to be a potential Final Four type of team. This is Schmidt’s best non conference to date. They did a fantastic job after opening night to rebound and position themselves where they are in the at-large conversation.
Lindsley: A. There is NO other pick. One loss came without your best player (yes, I know, still a bad loss). The other came to a Sweet 16 contender. And you beat Maryland and Syracuse. It’s A. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot. I will admit that I thought the season was in trouble after the Niagara loss. We know how hard it is for a program like Bonaventure to make-up bad losses.
Allan: I would give the Bonnies an A-. Overall they won two HUGE games they weren’t suppose to win in Maryland (No Jay) and away at Syracuse. The reason they don’t get an A or A+ is because of the loss to Niagara. The Bonnies secured 3/4 resume-building wins and lost the remaining one to TCU who is now #10 in the nation.
Walt: I would give the Bonnies an A-. The Bonnies had an extremely successful nonconference. They beat Maryland, Buffalo, Vermont and Syracuse all outside of the Reilly Center. Also, they’ve yet to lose a single game since Jaylen Adams returned from injury. The only reason I gave them an A- over an A is the loss to Niagara on opening night.
2. Who’s been the biggest surprise in the Atlantic 10?
Labedz: Definitely Massachusetts. Wins over Providence and Georgia were unexpected for a young team without much depth. Matt McCall is making something out of nothing in his first season, and that program will find lots of success in the near future.
Nolan: Richmond at 2-10. Everyone figured they would take a step back this year without TC Cline but this is shocking. Chris Mooney looks like he could be on the way out of Richmond after years of not meeting expectations. Still, don’t totally quit on the Spiders as 7 of those 10 losses have come vs. top 100 teams…some of which they actually played tough against. They won’t finish last in this league.
Lindsley: St. Bonaventure, because they beat Syracuse.
Allan: It has to be UMASS. The Minutemen are a sleeper for a top-4 spot in the Atlantic 10 just because we have ZERO idea who is the fourth best team in this conference. Their wins over Georgia and Providence were of the bigger wins the A10 has seen in the non-conference behind Seton Hall for URI and Syracuse for the Bonnies
Walt: The biggest surprise in the Atlantic 10 was UMass. UMass entered the non-conference with no expectations and they finished as the ultimate sleeper. They got hot towards the end with wins over Providence and Georgia and finished with a 7-1 home record. They’ll need to improve on the road with games at St. Bonaventure, Dayton, Rhode Island and Davidson. No one can take the Minutemen lightly.
3. Who’s been the biggest disappointment in the Atlantic 10?
Labedz: Richmond. I thought young talent would step up despite the losses of Cline and Jones. I was wrong; the Spiders have been awful. 10 non-conference losses are pitiful.
Nolan: Same as above, Richmond. Second to me would be George Mason who at 6-7 I thought would be better than they are as well as 7-6 Saint Louis who everyone outside the A10 told me the Billikens would finish in the top 2-3 of this league….they have no idea how long it takes for a team of entirely new players to come together. They have upside but they aren’t fighting with the Bonnies or Rams for a top spot this year. For the team that has been surprising in a good way: UMass. Wins over Providence and Georgia show they may be turning a corner already under Matt McCall….Saturday’s game should be competitive.
Lindsley: St. Joe’s. I thought they would be better defensively.
Allan: This was tougher than I thought. I would say when you look at overall records you could say Davidson, but their non-conference was arguably the hardest in the conference. For me it’s Dayton. Even though they’re under a new coach, I expected more from this team. They didn’t take advantage of any of their big games losing to Auburn, Miss St, and St Mary’s. With two of the better scorers in the conference in Davis and Cunningham, the offense isn’t as smooth as we thought It would be.
Walt: The biggest disappointment has been Richmond. Richmond finished dead last after non-conference play at 2-10. Richmond looked like an Atlantic 10 preseason sleeper and surprised a lot of people with their poor play. Their only wins in the non-conference came against UAB and James Madison and they lost five games by 10 or more. I don’t have much confidence in Richmond in Atlantic 10 play. They have a tough opener against Davidson.
4. Who’s the Bonnies biggest threat in the Atlantic 10 outside of Rhode Island?
Labedz: Probably Saint Joseph’s. Once Charlie Brown gets healthy, that seems like it will be the next best team in the Atlantic 10. I probably wouldn’t count out VCU either. Bonnies will have to play at the Siegel Center.
Nolan: I’ll say VCU though you could make the case for a number of other teams as well. The Rams are 8-6 but five of those losses have come to top 50 programs; so they’ve played great competition early. The defense isn’t anything like it was last year or years before but the Rams have a lot of good young talent and as the season progresses I believe they will gel. Wade Arena is also still one of the two toughest places to win the league; a major factor.
Lindsley: St. Joe’s assuming the Hawks’ best basketball is ahead of them.
Allan: I would say VCU. VCU has an opportunity to get some key resume-building wins when they host their only match up with both the Rams and Bonnies in Richmond this year. VCU is a team that knows how to get hot and could be a scary match-up inside for the Bonnies bigs.
Walt: The Bonnies biggest threat in the Atlantic 10 outside of Rhode Island is VCU. VCU had a brutal non-conference schedule. They played Virginia, Marquette, California, Michigan, Texas and Seton Hall. Of those games, VCU only beat California. Even thought VCU only finished the non-conference with one quality win, they’re battle tested. This team will be able to grind out close games in a weak non-conference. We all know the Bona vs. VCU games will be close.
5. Who wins the regular season Atlantic 10 title?
Labedz: I’ll take Rhode Island, but it’s gonna be an absolute dogfight. Hope to see St. Bonaventure and URI in the Big Dance.
Nolan: I will still go with URI since that’s what I predicted back in the fall. URI has a top 70 offense and a top 50 defense and the best guard depth in the league. E.C. Matthews is no longer their best player (A10 secret: he hasn’t been for two years) but Terrell is a beast and they’ve got tons of talent. I think Bonas has every chance to win this league but I won’t flip-flop.
Allan: The St. Bonaventure Bonnies will win the A-10 regular season title with an overall record of 15-3.
Walt: I think St. Bonaventure will win the regular season Atlantic 10 title, but it will not be easy. The Bonnies play Davidson, Duquesne, Rhode Island, Saint Louis and St. Joseph’s twice. They also play at Dayton, at La Salle, and at VCU. The Bonnies have an extremely tough conference schedule, but are well tested with their quality wins in the con-conference. The loss to Niagara was a wake-up call and won’t take any team lightly.