Predicting A-10 standings: One writer’s take

Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure among the favorites, but it’s wide open


Highlights

Dayton coming off back-to-back regular-season titles.

The 2016-17 Atlantic 10 season ended with a joyous moment (a Senior Night victory over Virginia Commonwealth) and then two surprising defeats (losses to George Washington and Davidson) for the Dayton Flyers. The 2017-18 season begins with uncertainty.

What should everyone expect from a team that graduated four senior starters and lost one returning letterwinner to injury and another to suspension? Dayton enters the season with 10 scholarship players, half of whom have never played a college game, plus a new coach in Anthony Grant.

That makes predicting Dayton’s finish in the A-10 harder than ever. Street and Smith’s Magazine picked the Flyers to finish eighth. John O’Connor, of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, also picked the Flyers eighth. J.P. Butler, of the Olean Times-Herald, picked them fifth.

RELATED: Ranking Dayton’s 18 A-10 games

I voted Dayton first in the last two preseason polls, and that was the consensus opinion. Dayton lived up to that hype, splitting the title in 2016 and winning it outright for the first time ever in 2017.

My prediction this season: Dayton will finish fifth. Here’s my rundown of how I think the standings will look in March (last year’s A-10 record and finish in parantheses):

1. St. Bonaventure (11-7, 5th): Most people are predicting Rhode Island to win the A-10, and that’s a solid choice. I’m sure the Rams will be the preseason favorite in the poll released Tuesday at A-10 Media Day. However, I’m picking the Bonnies in a slight upset. They return the top scoring tandem in the league: senior guards Jaylen Adams (20.6 points per game) and Matt Mobley (18.5).

2. Rhode Island (13-4, 3rd): The Rams won the conference tournament last season. They return one of the league’s top players: fifth-year senior guard E.C. Matthews, who averaged 19.3 points in the A-10 tournament.

3. St. Joseph’s (4-14, 13th): Injuries played a big part in the Hawks’ struggles last season. Two years ago, they placed fourth and won the A-10 tournament. They should be much improved with senior point guard Shavar Newkirk (20.3) returning from a torn ACL. Junior guard Lamarr Kimble (15.5) is another player to watch.

4. Virginia Commonwealth (14-4, 2nd): Like the Flyers, VCU enters a new era. Will Wade left for LSU. Mike Rhoades takes over. The Rams lost six of their top eight scorers, but this is a program that always finds a way. It has played in six straight NCAA tournaments.

5. Dayton (15-3, 1st): To compete for a third straight title, the Flyers need redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham and junior forward Xeyrius Williams to play like all-conference players and for junior point guard John Crosby to be one of the most improved players in the conference.

RELATED: Flyers won’t use short-handed roster as excuse

6. Saint Louis (6-12, 11th): The Billikens should be another team that makes a major jump in the second season for coach Travis Ford. Five transfers who sat out last season give them a chance to contend: guard Javon Bess, of Michigan State; forward D.J. Foreman, of Rutgers; guard Adonys Henriquez, of Central Florida; center Rashed Anthony, of Seton Hall; and guard Ty Graves, of Boston College.

7. Richmond (13-5, 3rd): The Spiders return two double-digit scorers: redshirt junior guard Khwan Fore (11.2) and sophomore guard De’Monte Buckingham (10.5).

8. Davidson (8-10, 9th): Senior forward Peyton Aldridge (20.5) is one of the favorites to win A-10 Player of the Year.

9. La Salle (9-9, 8th): The Explorers return three of their top four scorers, including redshirt senior forward B.J. Johnson (17.6).

10. George Washington (10-8, 6th): Senior forward Yuta Watanabe (12.2) is the team’s top returning scorer. The Colonials have finished in the top six four seasons in a row.

11. Massachusetts (4-14, 12th): Matt McCall is one of four new head coaches in the league. He replaces Derek Kellogg, who was fired after nine seasons.

12. George Mason (9-9, 7th): The Patriots were one of the league’s most improved teams last season, boosting their overall record from 11-21 to 20-14. They return two double-digit scorers in the backcourt: guards Otis Livingston II (14.3) and Jaire Grayer (11.4).

13. Duquesne (3-15, 14th): The Dukes lost 14 of their last 15 games. Their new head coach is Keith Dambrot, who coached Akron the last 13 seasons.

14. Fordham (7-11, 10th): The Rams finished last five times in six seasons (2009-14) but have escaped the basement in recent seasons. Junior guard Joseph Chartouny is their top returning scorer (12.1).


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

HS Results 9/18: Alter and Fenwick boys soccer tie 0-0

Boys Soccer Tuesday’s Results Alter 0, Fenwick 0 Beavercreek 3, Northmont 0 Bellbrook 1, Eaton 1 Butler 8, Greenville 1 Centerville 2, Springboro 0 Colerain 1, Oak Hills 1 Fairfield 1, Middletown 0 Fairmont 3, Miami Valley School 0 McNicholas 3, Badin 0 Miamisburg 3, Wayne 0 Middletown Madison 2, Carlisle 1 Milton-Union 4, Preble Shawnee 0 Monroe...
Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’
Buckeyes on the return of Urban Meyer to sideline: ‘He drives our culture’

Life has returned to normal for the Ohio State Buckeyes in that they will play the remaining nine regular-season games with their head coach, Urban Meyer, on the sideline. His three-game suspension ended Saturday when Ohio State beat Texas Christian 40-28. The Buckeyes went 3-0 with Ryan Day serving as acting head coach and will run out of the tunnel...
Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings
Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings

Top-ranked Chaminade Julienne and Coldwater joined Bellbrook as the No. 1 teams in their respective regions of the first Ohio High School Athletic Association computer football ratings released on Tuesday. The ratings made their debut after Week 4 games. The Associated Press announced its first high school state football polls last week. CJ and Coldwater...
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension

The Bengals on Tuesday rewarded kicker Randy Bullock for his reliability. The Bengals signed Bullock to two-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Bullock was in the final season of a two-year deal. »RELATED: Panthers’ offensive style presents challenges for Bengals Since joining the Bengals during the 2016 season, Bullock has...
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association made its football computer ratings debut on Tuesday. The top eight schools from each region in the final report Oct. 29 will qualify for the playoffs. Region 1 - 1. Mentor (4-0) 11.65, 2. Solon (4-0) 9.575, 3. Euclid (3-1) 8.875, 4. Canton McKinley (4-0) 7.9242, 5. Austintown-Fitch (3-1) 7.8, 6. Strongsville...
More Stories