Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament Preview, Odds and Prediction

Are the Dayton Flyers destined to win the A-10 Tournament crown?

Shriners Children's Charleston Classic - Day Two
Shriners Children's Charleston Classic - Day Two / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The Atlantic 10 Conference has a long history of producing one of the more exciting conference tournaments during championship week and this season should prove to be no different.

Fifteen teams will head to Brooklyn to compete for the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and it may be the only ticket available to the big dance for these teams.

This tournament features a preseason favorite that had a bullseye on it’s back all season, a surprise contender looking to finish their story and permanently silence their doubters, teams from March’s past looking to repeat history, and there are sleeper teams ready to turn the conference on it’s head.

Now, let’s discuss which teams provide some excellent value for what will be a fun week of basketball in Brooklyn.

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Odds to Win the A-10 Conference Tournament

Odds are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Dayton Flyers (+170)

The Flyers entered this season as the prohibitive favorites to win the regular season title and looked destined to take what was stolen from them during the cancelled 2020 season. However, the season was not as smooth sailing as many predicted, as the Flyers failed to win the regular season title and they struggled against the top teams in the conference.

With the Flyers’ best wins of the season coming against St. John’s, SMU, and Cincinnati, all three of whom may not make the NCAA Tournament, an early exit in Brooklyn could make for a very sweaty selection Sunday. The Flyers will rely heavily on the A-10's leading scorer DaRon Holmes II to carry them to an A-10 crown.

Richmond Spiders (+600)

Picked to finish 11th in the A-10 preseason poll, Chris Mooney coached his Spiders to their first ever A-10 regular season title, and defense has been the key to their success. The Spiders rank first in the league in points allowed (66.1) and first in opponent’s field goal percentage (39.9%).

The Spiders’ non-conference schedule did not produce any resume building wins, which means despite the remarkable regular season, an A-10 tournament title will be necessary to go to the big dance. Jordan King is the leading scorer for a Richmond offense that features five players that average 10 points or more a game, and that balanced offense will be the key to Richmond winning this tournament.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers (+700)

The Ramblers find themselves as the second seed in the A-10 tournament and their journey to this point has been the definition of a team effort. The Ramblers feature ten players that average at least 10 minutes of playing time, and their leading scorer Desmond Watson averages only 13 points per game.

The big question surrounding this group of Ramblers is can they win games against the top teams in the league. The Ramblers are 1-4 against Quad 1 opponents this season, with all four of those losses coming by double-digits, and one of those losses was against a St. Bonaventure team that may be the Ramblers’ first tournament opponent on Thursday night.

UMASS Minutemen (+700)

If it weren’t for Richmond winning the regular season title the biggest surprise in the A-10 this season would be the UMASS Minutemen. Picked to finish 13th in the preseason poll, the Minutemen won 20 games and finished in fourth place at season’s end.

The reason is the Frank Martin effect.

Martin you may recall coached Kansas State back to relevance and took South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017, and this year may be one of his best coaching jobs ever.

UMASS has six underclassmen that average at least 10 minutes of playing time, and they all contribute to an offense that led the A-10 in scoring with 78.5 points per game, with the two seniors on the roster Josh Cohen and Matt Cross both averaging 16 points a night. This young team hasn’t shied away from the top competition in the league with double-digit wins over Richmond and VCU, and losses to Dayton and Loyola by a combined 5 points.

VCU Rams (+800)

What if?

That is the question that has defined the VCU Rams' season. What if the Rams didn’t blow double-digit leads in losses to Iowa State, Boise State, and Dayton? What if the Rams didn’t miss 20+ 3-pointers in losses to McNeese State, Norfolk State and Memphis? If a handful of those games go differently we are talking about a Rams team with the potential to reach the Sweet 16 and possibly beyond.

Unfortunately we don’t live in the world of hypotheticals, which is why the Rams must win four games in four days in order to head back to the big dance.

Utah State transfers Max Shulga and Sean Bairstow are two of four double-digit scorers for a Rams team certainly talented enough to win this tournament. The value is certainly worth rooting for some old fashioned VCU havoc in Brooklyn.

It should be an excellent week in Brooklyn leading into Selection Sunday, and as for my prediction. I am going to be backing the Richmond Spiders.

The reason being is the experience in coaching with Chris Mooney who has won two of these tournaments previously, as well as the balance that the Spiders play with. If Jordan King has a rough outing, there are multiple scorers to pick up the slack, and the stout defense can slow every team in the conference. Rich what? Richmond.

Pick: Richmond (+600)

Odds update periodically and are subject to change.