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March Madness 2017 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Atlantic 10 Player of the Year: T.J. Cline, Richmond

The 6-foot-9 senior forward was not only one of the most efficient players in the conference, he was the only player in the Atlantic 10 to rank top-5 in (18.6 PPG), rebounds (8.1 RPG) and assists (5.7 APG). He had a triple-double — 34 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists — against Duquesne and then recorded another one — 19 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists — in his final game at Richmond.

Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year: Archie Miller, Dayton

Last year, Dayton was in a three-way tie for first place. This season, the Flyers won it outright with a 15-3 conference record. Miller had to balance early-season injuries to Kendall Pollard and transfer Josh Cunningham, which shortended his frontline. Following a loss to VCU, which finished in second place, the Flyers went on a nine-game winning streak, capped with a win at home against the Rams.

First-Team All-Atlantic 10

  • T.J. Cline, Richmond
  • Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: The senior guard was second in the conference in scoring at 20.8 points, and led the A10 in assists and 6.6 dimes per game.
  • Charles Cooke, Dayton: Also an all-defense selection by the A10 coaches, Cooke led the Flyers in scoring at 16.5 points per game to go along with his 5.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists a night.
  • Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The conference’s leading scorer at 22.0 points per game. The repeat selection registered a handful of 30-point games.
  • Marquise Moore, George Mason: At 6-foot-2, the senior guard averaged a double-double — 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game — leading the A10 in rebounding at 6-foot-2. He was instrumental in an eight-win turnaround for the Patriots.

Second Team All-Atlantic 10:

  • Peyton Aldridge, Davidson,
  • Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington
  • JeQuan Lewis, VCU
  • Hassan Martin, Rhode Island
  • Scoochie Smith, Dayton

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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It’s been three years since the Atlantic 10 set a conference record by sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the third straight year, the league is set to send half that amount, at best.

Rhode Island entered the season in the preseason top-25, but will likely remain on the bubble unless it makes it to Sunday’s tournament title game. Dayton won the league outright after overcoming early season injuries on the frontline. The Flyers are safe, as is VCU, who finished second to Dayton in the A10 standings this season.

The A10 wasn’t as strong as in previous seasons, but it could result in an eventful week in Pittsburgh. Will Dayton and VCU face off in a rubber match? Will Rhode Island secure its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1999? Or is there a bid stealer ready to make a run?

The Bracket

When: March 8-13

Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh

Final: Sunday, March 13 12:30 p.m.

Favorite: Dayton

The Flyers topped the league for the second straight season; this time outright. After dealing with injuries early in the season, which played a role in a loss in a marquee home game against Saint Mary’s, followed by an upset loss to Nebraska, putting them on the wrong side of the Wooden Legacy bracket. However, Dayton enters Pittsburgh as winners of nine of its last 10. That span includes a win at Rhode Island and avenging a loss to VCU. Scoochie Smith, Charles Cooke and Kendall Pollard lead an experienced team with the league’s best offense, matched with a solid defense.

And if they lose?: VCU

The Rams finished second in the A10 and owns a win over Dayton. Like the Flyers, VCU has an experienced group led by seniors JeQuan Lewis and Mo-Alie Cox. Both meetings were decided by single digits. In both games, the Rams frontline, anchored by Cox and Justin Tillman, gave Dayton’s front court fits.

Will Wade (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Rhode Island: The Rams enter this year as the conference favorite. They certainly have the talent, and perhaps a sense of urgency kicks in as the Rams are still one the bubble.
  • Richmond: Led by A10 Player of the Year T.J. Cline, the Spiders head to Pittsburgh as winners of four in a row. However, Richmond is 0-2 against VCU this season, a team it could potential face in the semifinals.

Sleeper: St. Bonaventure

With Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, the Bonnies have two guards who can really light it up. While they finished the regular season 6-4, they did give both VCU and Dayton a tough test during meetings last month.

The Bubble Dwellers: One

  • Rhode Island: The Rams followed up a marquee non-conference win against a ranked Cincinnati team by losing four of their next six. A 21-win season, and a recent win over VCU, could keep URI on the right side of the bubble. However, a one-an-done performance this week could mean a long night on Selection Sunday.

Defining moment of the season: JeQuan Lewis takes a charge on in-bounds pass with 0.4 seconds remaining.

On Feb. 8, George Washington’s Yuta Watanabe hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in a game against VCU. In lieu of going the length of the court for the next-to-impossible buzzer-beater, JeQuan Lewis drew a charge on Tyler Cavanaugh, sunk two free throws and the Rams left D.C. with the heist of a 54-53 victory. The previous game, a premature court storm by the St. Bonaventure fans, gave VCU a free throw, which helped force overtime.

VCU would have been on the wrong side of the bubble had it not won both those games, especially with Lewis’ quick thinking against the Colonials. Instead, the Rams are all but assured a seventh consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament.

CBT Prediction: Dayton

VIDEO: Shane Richards’ shot lifts shorthanded Manhattan

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Thanks to injuries and the departure of Jermaine Lawrence, the beginning of the season has been difficult for Steve Masiello’s Manhattan Jaspers. Entering Wednesday’s game against George Mason, which was coming off of a surprising run to the Charleston Classic title game, with just six available players the Jaspers looked to pick up their first win of the season.

And Manhattan was successful, with a Shane Richards three-point play with 1.1 seconds remaining being the difference in their 69-67 win at Draddy Gymnasium. Below is video of the game-winning play, courtesy of Manhattan Athletics.

Richards (13 points) was one of three Jaspers to reach double figures, with Rich Williams leading the way with 26 points and nine rebounds and Thomas Capuano adding 14 points. What also helped the Jaspers was the fact that they forced 25 George Mason, converting those opportunities into 24 points.

Not sure if Manhattan and George Mason are due to play again next season, but the last two meetings have produced dramatic outcomes. The Patriots won last year’s game in Fairfax on a Jalen Jenkins’ 75-footer as time expired.

Video credit: Manhattan Athletics

George Mason hires Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen

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George Mason has made a move on a new head coach as Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen is their choice for new head coach, according to a release from the school.

The 50-year-old Paulsen helped guide the Bison to a first-place finish in the Patriot League this season and a NIT appearance. Bucknell was 19-15, 13-5 in league play, as Paulsen was the seven-year head coach there.

Paulsen was 124-92 and 64-30 in league play at Bucknell and also won a Division III national title at Williams College in 2003. After eight years at Williams, he made the transition to Division I after previous head-coaching stops at St. Laurence (Division III) and Le Moyne (Division II).

Two NCAA tournament appearances in 2011 and 2013 were the high marks for Paulsen in his stint at Bucknell. The Bison won the Patriot League regular-season crown four times in his eight years with one second-place finish.

Report: Russell Turner turns down George Mason job, remains UC Irvine coach

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Russell Turner has reportedly turned down a job offer and will remain the head coach at UC Irvine.

Janis Carr of the Orange County Register reported on Sunday night that Turner had turned down the George Mason vacancy. George Mason relieved Paul Hewitt of his duties after four seasons, compiling a 20-42 record in the last two years as the program has shifted to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Turner, in his fifth season at UC Irvine, led the Anteaters to the NCAA tournament, nearly upsetting No. 4 Louisville in the Round of 64.

UC Irvine has won 20 or more games in each of the last three seasons under Turner. While they graduate two starters, the Anteaters return 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye along with second-leading scorer Luke Nelson and Alex Young.

WATCH LIVE: George Mason vs. George Washington on NBCSN

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NCAA Tournament hopeful George Washington is one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 at 3-1 and the Colonials host George Mason.

This is a game of two teams heading in opposite directions as George Washington has won seven of its last eight while George Mason has dropped three straight. Patricio Garino, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen form a nice trio for the Colonials while the Patriots are led by Shevon Thompson and Patrick Holloway.

You can see the game at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN. It will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

Terry Allen scores 20 as Richmond defeats George Mason (VIDEO)

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After dropping their Atlantic 10 opener at Davidson on Saturday, Richmond (8-7, 1-1) rebounded Thursday night with a 75-65 win over George Mason (6-8, 1-1) on NBCSN. Forward Terry Allen led four Spiders in double figures with 20 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, and as a team Richmond shot 55.8% from the field and 7-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Forward Shevon Thompson, one of the best freshmen in the Atlantic 10, scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Patriots with Patrick Holloway adding 17 off the bench. The 6-foot-11 Thompson has now posted six double-doubles on the season.