Atlantic 10 Tournament Predictions
The new Barclays Center in Brooklyn plays host to the 2013 Atlantic 10 Tournament, which begins on Thursday, March 14. The Saint Louis Billikens took down the regular season title with a 13-3 record to earn the No. 1 seed. VCU, Temple and La Salle will all get first-round byes alongside Saint Louis.
The winner of this tournament will get an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. However, there could be as many as four at-large bids coming from the deep Atlantic 10. Saint Louis, Butler and VCU are the only locks, while Temple and La Salle may still have some work left to do. Keeping these thoughts in mind, I’m going to go through and give my predictions for each round of the conference tournament.
First Round – Thursday, March 14 (NBC Sports Network)
12:00 EST – No. 8 Richmond (18-13) vs. No. 9 Charlotte (20-10) – The Spiders won their lone regular season meeting with the 49ers by a final of 81-61 at home on January 19th. This team has played well down the stretch, and I look for it to get by Charlotte and advance to the quarterfinals.
2:30 EST – No. 5 Butler (24-7) vs. No. 12 Dayton (17-13) – The Bulldogs won the only regular season meetings between these teams by a final of 79-73 on the road on January 12th. Butler wants to leave no doubt to the NCAA Tournament committed that it belongs, so it won’t be losing to the Flyers in the opening round.
6:30 EST – No. 7 Xavier (17-13) vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s (17-12) – The Hawks won their lone regular season meeting 59-49 over the Musketeers on January 26th at home. Saint Joe’s is probably the biggest sleeper in the entire tournament, and I like it to advance to the second round with a win over Xavier.
9:00 EST – No. 6 UMass (19-10) vs. No. 11 George Washington (13-16) – The Colonials went on the road to beat the Minutemen 79-76 on January 19th in their only regular season meeting. I like the way UMass has played since that defeat, winning three of their final four games to close out the season. The Minutemen carry that momentum into the Atlantic 10 Tournament and a victory over George Washington in the rematch.
Quarterfinals – Friday, March 15 (Regional)
12:00 EST – No. 1 Saint Louis (24-6) vs. No. 8 Richmond – The Billikens won their lone regular season meeting with the Spiders 56-46 on the road on February 9th. That was just one of 12 victories in 13 games to close out the season for the conference champs. Saint Louis gets by Richmond in the quarterfinals.
2:30 EST – No. 4 La Salle (21-8) vs. No. 5 Butler – The Expolers beat the Bulldogs in a 54-53 thriller at home on January 23rd. La Salle has its chance to boost its resume in its season finale, but lost ugly 54-78 at Saint Louis. Lacking confidence, and with Butler out for revenge, I look for the Explorers to fall as they can’t handle the pressure of a must-win game to get into the NCAA Tournament.
6:30 EST – No. 2 VCU (24-7) vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s – The Rams beat St. Joe’s 92-86 (OT) at home on January 17th in their only regular season meeting. While I expect another close game in the rematch, I’m taking VCU to advantage to the quarterfinals.
9:00 EST – No. 4 Temple (23-8) vs. No. 6 UMass – The Owls won at UMass 83-82 on February 16th to start what would be a seven-game winning streak to close out the season. I’m taking the hottest team in the Atlantic 10 to get by the Minutemen and into the semifinals.
Semifinals – Saturday, March 16 (CBS Sports Network)
1:30 EST – No. 1 Saint Louis vs. No. 5 Butler – The Bilikens clearly present a tough match-up for the Bulldogs. They won both regular season meetings with a 75-58 home victory on January 31st, and an even more impressive 65-61 road win on February 22nd. Saint Louis beats Butler for a third time this season to advance to the championship.
4:00 EST – No. 2 VCU vs. No. 3 Temple – This will be a rematch from the regular season finale when Temple beat VCU 84-76 at home on March 10th. I look for the Owls to remain the hottest team in the Atlantic 10 and to knock off the Rams once again in the rematch.
Championship – Sunday, March 17 (CBS)
1:00 EST – No. 1 Saint Louis vs. No. 3 Temple – The Owls beat the Billikens 64-54 at home back on January 12th in their first and only meeting of the regular season. I am taking Temple in the rematch as well as it caps off its impressive run to end the 2012-13 season with an Atlantic 10 Tournament title.