Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

(AP Photo/Tony Tribble)
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The Atlantic 10 will be one of the most intriguing events to watch over the final few days before the NCAA tournament. Not only is the A-10 Tournament itself a wide-open field, filled with contenders who could win it all, but there are also four teams with NCAA tournament at-large concerns that could use some more wins before Selection Sunday. While Dayton looks to be comfortably in the field, VCU, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s and George Washington all find themselves on the bubble.

The conference tournament quarterfinals might feature a game that is essentially an NCAA tournament play-in game as No. 5 seed George Washington could face No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s, as both teams could use another win for their profiles. Don’t be surprised if a lower-seeded team wins this event, either. The No. 4 or No. 5 seed has been the winner of the A-10 tournament in three of the last four years.

The Bracket 

2016_MBB_Bracket (1)

When: March 9-13

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Final: Sunday, March 13, 12:30 p.m. (CBS)

Favorite: Dayton

The Flyers haven’t finished the regular season on the strongest of notes, but they’re still the No. 1 seed and the team with the best path to make the finals. With a balanced roster, the Flyers have a lot of experienced pieces who have been successful in March before as they’re led by Charles Cooke (15.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Dyshawn Pierre (12.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Scoochie Smith (11.8 ppg, 4.1 apg). With a top-20 Kenpom defense, the Flyers can also be counted on to get consistent stops.

And if they lose?: VCU

Shaka Smart might be gone, but this is still a very talented Rams team that has a lot of experience. Senior Melvin Johnson (18.0 ppg) is one of the A-10’s best scorers while Korey Billbury (11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and JeQuan Lewis (10.3 ppg, 4.9 apg) are also talented and experienced guards who can hit shots. Much like Dayton, VCU’s defense is rated in the top 20 on Kenpom and this group can really cause a lot of problems on that end of the floor.

Other Contenders:

  • St. Bonaventure: While Dayton and VCU can get stops, St. Bonaventure can really score. Marcus Posley, Jaylen Adams and Dion Wright are a tremendously potent trio on the offensive end.
  • Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks have dropped two straight heading into Barclays, but Isaiah Miles is tough to handle on the interior and DeAndre Bembry is one of the league’s best all-around players.

Sleeper: Davidson

With plenty of players who can put up points — including junior point guard Jack Gibbs, the nation’s third-leading scorer — the Wildcats are dangerous if they get hot. Besides Gibbs, Bob McKillop’s team has floor spacing and is one of the most efficient offenses in the conference.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Saint Joseph’s: Saint Joseph’s should be safe entering Atlantic 10 tournament week, but the Hawks only have two top-50 wins to their credit and they really need to avoid a bad loss to feel truly safe on Selection Sunday.
  • VCU: The Rams could have really helped their cause by beating Dayton in the final regular season game, but they lost in overtime. As long as VCU beats No. 7 seed Rhode Island or No. 10 seed UMass in the quarterfinals, they should feel safe. A second win wouldn’t hurt.
  • St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have charged into the at-large conversation by going 10-2 in their final 12 games and a quarterfinal win should help their cause quite a bit. A quarterfinal loss would likely put St. Bonaventure in the NIT.
  • George Washington: Losing to Davidson to end the regular season was a huge loss for George Washington as they’ll likely need to win the Atlantic 10 tournament to make the field. The Colonials still have a prayer of an at-large chance if everything goes their way this week, but they would likely have to make the A-10 finals by beating Saint Joseph’s and Dayton and hope other results across college basketball go their way.

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year: DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s

The junior was remarkably consistent in stuffing the stat sheet once again for the Hawks as he averaged 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Bembry has scored in double-figures in every game this season and been huge in moving the ball within the offense as well. The 6-foot-6 Bembry also shot 47 percent from the field and dropped his turnovers to 2.1 per game in 36.8 minutes per contest.

Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year: Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure was picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches’ poll and the Bonnies ended up as co-regular season champions of the league along with Dayton and VCU. Things didn’t look so positive for Schmidt’s team after a 4-3 start in conference play, but St. Bonaventure closed out the regular season strong and are in position to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large team if they take care of business in Brooklyn this week.

First-Team All-Atlantic 10:

  • DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s (POY)
  • Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: Marcus Posley had some big scoring performances, but Adams, a sophomore guard, was tremendous in conference play.
  • Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Third in the country in scoring during his junior season, Gibbs averaged 24.8 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
  • Charles Cooke, Dayton: After sitting out a transfer season, Cooke picked up where he left off, averaging 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.
  • Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington: Another talented transfer, Cavanaugh put up 16.6 points, 7.5 rebounds per game for the Colonials while also adding additional floor-spacing with his 39 percent 3-point range.

Second Team All-Atlantic 10:

  • T.J. Cline, Richmond
  • Melvin Johnson, VCU
  • Marcus Posley, St. Bonaventure
  • Patricio Garino, George Washington
  • Isaiah Miles, Saint Joseph’s

Defining moment of the season: Marcus Posley dropped a Division I-season-high 47 points on March 2 as St. Bonaventure picked up a critical at-large win over Saint Joseph’s.

CBT Prediction: VCU makes a run to the A-10 title, picking off Dayton along the way and ensuring that Will Wade’s statue will be built in Richmond before Shaka Smart’s.