Dates: March 8, 11-13
Location: Campus sites, Atlantic City
Championship Game: March 13th, 1:00 pm, CBS
Outlook: Xavier was supposed to be down this season. They lost Jason Love and Jordan Crawford, they had all of their perimeter depth disappear due to injuries and ineligibility, and they struggled during the non-conference portion of their schedule.
We should have learned not to count out a Xavier team. The Musketeers proceeded to roll through the Atlantic 10, going 15-1 in league play with their only loss inexplicably coming against Charlotte. The Muskies are led by Tu Holloway, one of the best guards in the country, but with experienced role players like Kenny Frease, Dante Jackson, and Jamel McLean, this is more than a one man team.
Two other teams are real threats to win the conference tournament. Temple plays their typical stingy defense. Juan Fernandez hasn’t had the season most of us expected, but Lavoy Allen has been a monster of late (he’s averaging 17 and 14 in the last five games) while Ramone Moore has developed into a legitimate 15 ppg scorer.
Richmond is led by Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper, who is probably the best NBA prospect in the conference. The Spiders 13-3 conference record is bolstered by the fact that they only played Xavier and Temple once (both losses).
Player to Watch: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
If Justin Harper isn’t the best pro prospect in the A-10, than Nicholson probably is. The 6’9″ Bonnies forward can flat out fill it up, averaging over 20 ppg. Nicholson has struggled against the league’s top three (just 13.7 ppg in three games), but he’s also scored 30 four times this season, including the regular season finale.
The Musketeers are just too good this season. Tu Holloway not only is the best player in the conference, he’s the most clutch. There isn’t anyone in the league I would rather have with the ball in their hands and a clock winding down.
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Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.