Catching Up On A-10 News

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. Been swamped at work and couldn’t find time to sneak in a blog post like I have been able to. A lot has happened. NCAA second round, Bobby Hurley leaves URI, and George Mason.

Anyway, on to what I’ve missed:

NCAA Tournament
After starting 5-0 during the first round (if you call the play-ins the first round, you’re a huge asshole), the A-10 goes 1-4 in the next round with only La Salle advancing to the Sweet 16.

Temple certainly played a good game and could very well have beaten Indiana if it weren’t for Oladipo:


Skip to 0:26.

Khalif Wyatt’s first half performance showed why he was the A-10 player of the year. Unfortunately, the 15 minute break for halftime was just enough time for Wyatt’s hot hand to go cold and he had a very pedestrian second half. Temple should hang their heads high. they took the #1 seed (and at certain points during the season – the #1 team in the country) to the very brink of defeat.

Not much to say about VCU. They were just completely overmatched by Michigan. Like I’ve said before, the best way to beat the Havoc defense is to have smart, instinctive guards. That is exactly what Michigan has in Burke (possibly the best guard in all of college basketball) and Hardaway Jr. Just a bad game for VCU. Missed a lot of open jump shots and missed a bunch of easy lay-ups. Too bad. Still a great season overall for the Rams and they will be a top team in the A-10 for a long while (unless Shaka Smart goes to UCLA).

St. Louis, whose foundation was built on tough defense, really didn’t look very competitive against Oregon (who may be the best 12 seed in tournament history – hyperbole, saying they were shafted by the Selection Committee). The usually stout defense of SLU gave up 76 to Oregon and couldn’t really seem to stop them.

Butler now, they looked like they had the game won for a while, but Marquette showed a lot of grit and balls in coming back and taking the lead with about 7 or 8 minutes left. Then it was truly a back and forth game; a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, Butler couldn’t pull out the victory in the end.

On to La Salle. Great win over Ole Miss. What makes it a great win? The win means that fucking menace Marshall Henderson is finally out of the tournament. Good riddance. La Salle played great and hit a lot of key shots. not only did their star player (Ramon Galloway) have a good game, but so did VA Tech transfer Tyrone Garland. Garland hit the game winning lay up with only a second left. Southwest Philly Floater for the win (literally)!!!

Next up for La Salle is Arizona. Zona is a very talented team (coached by former Xavier coach Sean Miller) who was one of the last unbeaten teams in the country. I hope La Salle can keep it rolling and become the next VCU (from 2011) in that they go from Play-in to Final Four.

George Mason
So George Mason announced that they are joining the A-10 on July 1 of this year. Good pick up by the A-10 to replace one of the many departing teams. I think the A-10 only needs to add one more school to get back up to 14 teams for this year and 12 the year after that (assuming the rumors about Dayton and St. Louis to the Big East are true). I’m still hoping that the A-10 can pull off a miracle and convince Wichita St. to leave the MVC too (Creighton is leaving for the Big East). I know it is unlikely but who knows, they did convince Butler and VCU to join. It could happen. Anyway, I like George Mason. GM would fit in with the rest of the A-10 with the play of their top 2 guys (both guards): Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright. The A-10 is well known for their guard play and GM will step right in.

Bobby Hurley
Bobby Hurley to Buffalo

So word has it that Bobby Hurley is leaving URI for Buffalo. This is a curious move to say the least. I mean, Bobby must have had other offers in the past (I think Wagner offered him the job when Dan left for URI) and he turned them down to stay with Dan and spend time with Dan and their families. If he turned down offers in the past, why leave now? Why University of Buffalo? No offense to University of Buffalo fans, but I can’t wrap my head around why Bobby would take that job. Is he finally ready to step out from Dan’s shadow and build his own legacy? Is he thinking that turning around a Buffalo program will allow him to land a head coaching gig with a high-major school (like using Buffalo as a stepping stone)? Baffling; but Dan is doing a great job recruiting and coaching up these players and while it would have been nice to keep Bobby around to help mentor EC Matthews and help transition him into an elite PG, I wish Bobby all the luck in the world and I hope he achieves all the success he needs to get to where he wants to in life.

Great Start To The Tournament For The A-10

A-10 Round of 64

Atlantic 10 Teams start the tournament off 5-0.

Truth be told, I didn’t really get to watch much of the Butler/Bucknell game. They started the tournament off for the A-10 and got it started off on the right foot.

SLU just demolished New Mexico State and their gigantic oaf Sim Bhullar. SLU establishing their defensive will against teams and will definitely be a force in this tournament. Teams who get by with their scoring/high FG% have to hope to sustain a hot streak. Unfortunately teams get hot hands shooting and they get cold hands shooting. While teams can go into slumps shooting, good defense is slump proof. Whether SLU is hot or cold shooting the ball, their defense will keep them in all the games.

I don’t want to read too much into VCU’s win against an Akron team with their star player suspended for trying to run enough drugs to make Pablo Escobar blush and two other starters limited with the flu. A good win and a good way to get their “havoc” defense going for when they face real competition in Michigan on Saturday.

La Salle had one of the gutsiest wins of the A-10 teams. They came in after being a play-in team and taking on a much, MUCH bigger K-State. They did blow an 18-point lead but they made enough plays to pull off the second biggest upset of the tournament so far (Harvard as a 14-seed is the biggest upset so far). I thought Henriquez was going to completely shut down the Explorers in the second half. The 3-point shooting started to get cold and Henriquez towered over the smaller Explorers and seemingly swatted every shot taken inside the paint. Glad La Salle won. See if they can be the next VCU (from Play-in to Final Four).

Temple over NC State was a great win for the Owls. NC State was a preseason pick to win the ACC and are considered to have a very talented team. Temple has what it takes to go far in the tournament a dominant player (Khalif Wyatt) and a few good role players (Scootie Randall and TJ DiLeo). Wyatt won’t have to carry a team all by himself but together they all have the talent to be a Sweet 16 team.

PS: Can we please stop calling the play-in games the “first round”? The “First Four” is not the first round. I refuse to recognize a tournament that has 8 teams play in the first round and 60…SIXTY…teams get a first round bye? Get outta here with that shit.

Round 1 Different than Play-ins

Well said, KFC.

PPS: Stat of the day so far…

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NCAA Tournament Field Set, A-10 Teams In Upsets?

ESPN: (4) No. 13 Boise State Broncos or La Salle Explorers versus No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats

Upset chance: 32.5 percent (La Salle) or 34.8 percent (Boise State)

What you need to know: Either play-in team can shoot well enough to show why Kansas State has been one of the most overrated teams in the country all season.

(6) No. 11 Bucknell Bison versus No. 6 Butler Bulldogs

Upset chance: 29.4 percent

What you need to know: The ultra-conservative Bison are a resistible force; the over-seeded Bulldogs are a movable object.

(7) No. 12 Akron Zips versus No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

Upset chance: 28.9 percent

What you need to know: VCU is now a trendy pick, but the Rams need to be careful: their high-pressure, outside-shooting game profiles better for Killers than Giants, and Akron’s offensive rebounding can keep them in games.

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So these are the potential upsets that could happen as they relate to A-10 teams. Two teams being “giants” and one team as a “giant killer.”

It would be a great day for A-10 fans if La Salle beats Boise State then goes on to upset K-State and Bucknell upsets Butler. A nice parting shot as Butler (expectedly) goes one-and-done in the A-10 and leaves for the Big East which basically spits in the faces of all A-10 fans. La Salle is also a great story here too as one of the last 2 teams announced as participants in the NCAA tournament. La Salle had a great season, which, in my opinion, came out of nowhere. It gives this tournament berth a bit of that “Cinderella” vibe for the Explorers and I hope they make it last until the Round of 32.

The confusing part of this is the 29% upset chance given to Akron over VCU. Is this adjusted for Akron’s best player being ineligible after getting arrested for being the worst drug dealer in America? If it was adjusted, what would the chances have been given to Akron with Alex Abreu active? Seems like some disrespect towards VCU. VCU is a “killer” and can survive Akron and then give Michigan (and even perhaps Kansas) all that they can handle.

Round 2 Picks: A10 Tournament

So I am a little late with this and missed the Charlotte/SLU game that started at 12…so I won’t pick that game.

Butler (-2.0) vs La Salle (+2.0)
I think La Salle is a good match-up against Butler. La Salle did beat Butler last time these teams played. La Salle is also averaging 76ppg in their last 5 games while giving up 71ppg in the same span. Butler, meanwhile, is averaging 65ppg while giving up 68ppg over their last 5. La Salle wins and they definitely cover the 2.0.

St. Joe’s (+7.0) vs VCU (-7.0)
I have VCU winning outright as they are just way more talented than St. Joe’s plus their defense will shut this Hawks team down. VCU covers but it will be because of fouling at the end of the game so if you bet on this game, expect it kind of close until the end.

UMass (+5.0) vs Temple (-5.0)
I have Temple winning this game. However, I think UMass covers. This will be a great game with Chaz Williams and Khalif Wyatt both trying to out-perform each other. There will also be a lot of 3’s. UMass has been keeping it close for the most part this year (win or lose).

So there we have it. Just know I am batting .500 in sports betting so don’t blame me for my wrong picks….and send a piece of the winnings if I am right.

Temple Beats VCU, Solidifies Tourney Spot

Crying Owl

ESPN: PHILADELPHIA — On the way out of the Atlantic 10, Temple looked ready to take one more trophy as a keepsake.

Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points and Jake O’Brien had 19, and the Owls beat No. 21 VCU 84-76 on Sunday after rallying from a big first-half deficit.

The Owls (23-8, 11-5 A-10) flipped a 16-point hole into a 17-point lead and clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.

O’Brien rallied the Owls back from the big first-half hole with clutch 3-pointers in transition that propelled them toward their seventh straight win. O’Brien tied the game at 46-46 on a 3, then gave the Owls the lead for good with another 3 to go up 51-48 with less than 15 minutes left.

The Owls took off from there, thrilling a sellout crowd of 10,206 with tough buckets inside, while O’Brien led the surge from outside.

VCU coach Shaka Smart said he’s left trying to figure out why the Rams lost “their fire” after halftime, especially with first place at stake. The Rams were on the brink of sharing a championship in their first season in the A-10 after bolting the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Nobody transitions from a smaller league to a bigger league and wins the league in the first year,” Smart said. “This is why. You’ve got to win games like today. We just didn’t do what it took to win.”

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And there Temple fans have it. I said that they needed to split the La Salle and VCU games while winning their other games remaining. They did even better. They won out. It wasn’t all pretty, though. I was in the stands for the URI/Temple game that really came down to the wire. As I was leaving the arena, I overheard a couple of students say “that was close; that was the tournament right there.” They were 100% correct. I thought that even though they won it would still negatively impact Temple’s chances as they barely squeaked by with a win, at home, against an 8-win team. If VCU came in to Temple and ran them off the court, that would have most likely force them to really do work in the A-10 tournament. Now they can win their first game and be guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.

It was very much a huge win for Temple. A real demoralizing loss for VCU heading into the A-10 tournament.

Another big-time performance from a big-time player. Khalif Wyatt really should be the A-10 player of the year. In every meaningful statistic category (points, steals, assists, turnovers, etc.), Wyatt is ahead of the other players considered for POY honors (Juvonte Reddic-VCU, Rotnei Clarke-Butler, and Ramon Galloway-La Salle). Looking at those 4 players, I think it is safe to say that without Wyatt, Temple may not even be a .500 team in the conference. I think there are other players around Juvonte Reddic that can more than pick up the slack if he were to go down with an injury and VCU wouldn’t be as worse off by losing Reddic; such as Treveon Graham and Troy Daniels. Same can be said for Rotnei Clarke and Butler who have 4 other players besides Clarke who average 10ppg or more. Roosevelt Jones may not score as many points as Clarke, but he gets more rebounds, has more assists, and fewer turnovers. As for Ramon Galloway, La Salle can make up his rebounding numbers by giving Steve Mack or Jerrell Wright more time. Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland can be just as effective scoring and other than Galloway scoring 2 more points per game, Duren’s stats are almost identical to Galloway (assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers). Wyatt scores 8 more points per game than the second highest scorer on Temple and is the only one on Temple with over 4 assists per game. Temple would have a much tougher time replacing Wyatt than the other teams would have replacing their best player which I think is the definition of the Most VALUABLE Player. Wyatt has the intrinsic value of a POY candidate; he’s got good enough stats to win it but he also has the increased value to his team.

Xavier and Butler Haven’t Told A-10 They Are Leaving

xavierCute Bulldog

ESPN: Butler and Xavier have not notified the Atlantic 10 that they plan to leave the conference to join the “new” Big East, A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said Saturday.

“No, as of today all of our members remain full members of the Atlantic 10 and no one has given a notice of withdrawal,” McGlade told ESPN.com before Butler faced VCU in Richmond, Va.

Butler and Xavier plan to join the Big East’s seven departing Catholic schools when they start their own league next season, sources told ESPN this week. The new league will keep the Big East Conference name, sources said.

Butler coach Brad Stevens declined to address the school’s plans after falling to VCU 84-52, his worst loss in six seasons as a head coach.

“I’m in the A-10 and I’m not commenting on anything else other than I’m in the A-10,” Stevens said.

The A-10 already faces the departures of Temple to the Big East and Charlotte to Conference USA this summer.

“Fourteen is a big conference,” for the Atlantic 10 after Temple and Charlotte leave, McGlade said. “Part of our plan was to be a large and strong conference but there is no golden number. Is 16 the perfect number? Or 14 or 12?”

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I don’t get these reporters who seemingly missed out on breaking the news of Xavier and Butler leaving trying to make up for it by asking the people involved to comment on the situation. How many times in history has someone directly involved in the unofficial (read: unconfirmed) story told a reporter that the information is true before the big announcement? It literally never happens. What did the reporter expect? Did she expect McGlade or Stevens to make some profound statement to her instead of, you know, waiting for the PR spectacle that is the official press conference? Guess what, lady, you’re not important enough for someone like Stevens and McGlade to answer those questions now. Just wait until the press conference like everyone else.

This ESPN article is 17 (really short) paragraphs long that literally said nothing worth noting other than “Butler and Xavier have not notified the Atlantic 10 that they plan to leave the conference to join the ‘new’ Big East.” This Dana O’Neil lady literally went on and on about stuff that has already been written and has been written by everybody and has been written weeks ago. I mean, she pretty clearly had some sort of word count quota to meet or something. Either that or she felt stupid posting an article that would have been long enough to be a tweet (with characters to spare).

As for the one piece of news-worthy information in this article, of course they haven’t notified the A-10 yet of their intentions. First of all, the new Big East hasn’t officially been recognized as a new D1 conference. I am thinking that will happen after this Tuesday press conference with Fox Sports. Once the announcement on Tuesday is made, then Xavier and Butler will notify the A-10 that they are officially leaving. Second of all, we are approaching March and Xavier is fighting for their lives on the bubble of the Tournament and Butler is very obviously heading in the wrong direction after peaking mid-season after wins over Indiana and Gonzaga. Butler just got completely emasculated by VCU and they need to get their shit together before heading into the A-10 tournament and NCAA tournament. The last thing these schools need is a distraction of that magnitude to get in the way of making a run in the NCAA tourney, if they even get in (in Xavier’s case). These schools are just going to keep giving the stock answer of “no comment” and “we’re in the A-10 now and only focused on our next game.”

As an aside, how pissed is Temple? They announced a couple years ago that they were joining the Big East and then waited the 27 months to avoid the $2M buyout fee. Then all this realignment happened. This certainly isn’t the conference Temple thought they were joining when they agreed to join 2 years ago. Instead of Georgetown, cross-town rival Nova, etc.; they get Tulsa and Houston.

Catholic 7 Conference Update

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SI.com: The future of the Catholic Seven basketball conference is expected to become more clear within the next week. An announcement about the television contract with Fox and the teams that the league plans to add could come as early as Tuesday at a Fox Television event in New York City.

Perhaps the most significant development is that the new league appears headed toward beginning play next season, with one source saying that there’s a “better chance” that the league starts in 2013-14 than in 2014-15.

That leaves the biggest looming question of how many teams will the Catholic Seven end up adding for its inaugural season. The chance exists that the league could start with nine teams if it begins next year, as the Atlantic 10 exit fees are $2 million per school. (In the non-football world, that’s a significant amount of money.) One of the biggest remaining snags is Butler and Xavier untangling themselves from the Atlantic 10, as an immediate departure would be expensive.

The league will eventually expand to 12 teams in the next few years, with Creighton, Dayton and Saint Louis expected to fill in the final three slots. If the league grows to 10 next year Creighton is considered a slight favorite for the 10th spot.

Some clarity is also expected soon about Madison Square Garden as the home for a postseason basketball venue. It’s expected that MSG will eventually link together with the Catholic Seven schools, barring any significant interest by the ACC to become an annual occupant. (That interest is unlikely because of the ACC’s traditional Southern geographic ties.)

It’s likely that the Catholic Seven will end up with its two biggest wishes — the Big East name and the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden. Fox appears to be getting its biggest wish, too — that the new league will begin play next season.
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Well there we have it. Looks like what everyone has been expecting for a while is about to happen. Kind of sucks that the A-10 is getting stripped like that. Sure with SLU, Dayton, Xavier, and Butler leaving, it means that the league will be more competitive; as opposed to the same teams at the top year in and year out. Unfortunately that also means the A-10 as a conference is weaker and the days of getting 4 or 5 teams in the NCAA Tournament are likely over.

The A-10 Conference will now have to aggressively recruit new schools to come into the league. Over the next couple years, there will be 6 schools departing leaving the conference with 10 teams. I think 12 teams would be the perfect size. I guess the A-10 will renew interest in adding George Mason which I think would be a great school to add. The Patriots are always a tough team to play, they just don’t get the exposure they somewhat deserve. I also think Wichita State would be a good school to add though they may not like the traveling. SLU has always complained about the traveling and Wichita State is further away. Perhaps a school like Murray State could be added if Wichita State turns the A-10 down. Only time will tell now.

As a URI fan, Xavier has absolutely owned the Rams; beating them in the regular season 15 years in a row. With the recruits URI has coming in plus all the transfers gaining eligibility next year, it would have been nice to give Xavier a bit of payback…

Also, how much power do these schools have? They get to keep the name AND the tournament at MSG?! The remaining schools must be a bunch of pussies.

As always, for pillaging the A-10 so hard, the Catholic 7 schools can all go fuck themselves.