Nick Kern, VCU Rams, Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

CBB Review prepares you for every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up next: The Atlantic 10 Tournament.


It’s been a down year for the Atlantic 10 and overall a disappointing stretch. What was once a proud league that sometimes produced upward of three NCAA Tournament spots is now a mere single-bid league. This means that the conference tournament this upcoming week means everything.

2023 Atlantic 10 Conference Awards

Player of the Year: Da’Ron Holmes, Dayton

Freshman of the Year: R.J. Luis, UMass

Transfer of the Year: Dae Dae Grant, Duquesne

Coach of the Year: Keith Urgo, Fordham

First Team:

  • G: Yuri Collins, Saint Louis (11.3 PPG, 10.1 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG)
  • G: Erik Reynolds, St. Joseph’s (19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 38.8 3P%)
  • G: James Bishop, George Washington (21.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.2 APG)
  • F: Tyler Burton, Richmond (18.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 55.4 2P%)
  • C: Da’Ron Holmes, Dayton (18.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 BPG, 59.2 FG%)

Second Team:

  • G: Ace Baldwin, VCU (12.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.9 RPG, 2.5 SPG)
  • G: Darius Quisenberry, Fordham (17.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.2 SPG)
  • G: Ishmael Leggett, Rhode Island (16.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.4 SPG)
  • F: Sam Mennenga, Davidson (15.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 51.5 FG%, 38.2 3P%)
  • F: Josh Oduro, George Mason (15.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 55.4 FG%)

Atlantic 10 Tournament Simulation

First Round – Tuesday, Mar. 7

12. Richmond (14-17, 7-11) vs. 13. UMass (15-15, 6-12) – 11:30 a.m on ESPN+

Both of these teams have had quite disappointing years, especially in recent months. Although the Minutemen have been plagued by injuries, the full return of Matt Cross should be critical. Cross and R.J. Luis Luis lead UMass to a play-in victory.

Dan’s Pick: 13. UMass

10. Saint Joseph’s (14-16, 8-10) vs. 15. Loyola Chicago (10-20, 4-14) – 2 p.m on ESPN+

Speaking of disappointment, how about the newest member of the A10, Loyola-Chicago? The Ramblers have ranked near the bottom of the country in most offensive categories, including turnover rate. The one facet they do thrive in is the pick-and-roll game with Philip Alston but expect Saint Joseph’s to be up to the task and take down the Ramblers for the third time this season.

Dan’s Pick: 10. Saint Joseph’s

11. La Salle (13-18, 7-11) vs. 14. Rhode Island (9-21, 5-13) – 4:30 p.m on ESPN+

The Rams have been such a disaster offensively, and not having Brayon Freeman around only hurts their case more. It is hard to justify picking this Rhode Island team to win a single game in this tournament.

Dan’s Pick: 11. La Salle

Second Round – Wednesday, Mar. 8

8. Davidson (15-15, 8-10) vs. 9. St. Bonaventure (14-17, 8-10) – 11:30 a.m on USA Network

It is a strange site but a year-long storyline that Davidson is a poor three-point shooting team. St. Bonaventure has been struggling as of late but did lose a double-digit game to the Wildcats last month. I’ll still take Daryl Banks and Chad Venning to lead the Bonnies to a victory.

Dan’s Pick: 9. St. Bonaventure

5. George Mason (19-12, 11-7) vs. 13. UMass – 2 p.m on USA Network

UMass’ deep rotation helped them win three games in four days in the Myrtle Beach Invitational earlier this season. For various reasons, they are no longer the same team. Meanwhile, the Patriots rebound the ball well and play tough, swarming defense.

Dan’s Pick: 5. George Mason

7. George Washington (16-15, 10-8) vs. 10. Saint Joseph’s – 5 p.m on USA Network

In this one, George Washington’s defense, which gives up a conference-high 76.4 points per game will hurt them. They especially struggle with close outs and allow opponents to get consistent, quality three-point shots. Hawks head coach Billy Lange draws up a game plan to attack off the dribble and make a living at the free throw line.

Dan’s Pick: 10. Saint Joseph’s

6. Duquesne (20-11, 10-8) vs. 11. La Salle – 7:30 p.m on USA Network

This is a different Dukes team that many are not used to seeing. Keith Dambrot’s squad can shoot the lights out, force turnovers, and has an elite scoring guard in Dae Dae Grant. The Explorers might have taken the first game but they do not blow me away too much.

Dan’s Pick: 6. Duquesne

Quarterfinals – Thursday, Mar. 9

1. VCU (24-7, 15-3) vs. 9. St. Bonaventure – 11:30 a.m on USA Network

Let’s not act like the Rams have been immune to letdown losses this year because nobody in the conference has. In fact, the Bonnies own a 61-58 win over VCU in the regular season. In that game, St. Bonaventure attacked the rim with ease. Given both teams’ track records though, that performance seems like more of an exception than the rule.

Dan’s Pick: 1. VCU

4. Saint Louis (20-11, 12-6) vs. 5. George Mason – 2 p.m on USA Network

By the way, that stat line from above is not a typo: Yuri Collins actually does average over 10 assists per game. The Billikens have as crisp of an offense as it gets with cutting and screening galore. They sometimes struggle with teams that can dictate a slower tempo and that can potentially be George Mason. However, I think Saint Louis replicates this regular season battle with a hard-fought, low-scoring, victory in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Dan’s Pick: 4. Saint Louis

2. Dayton (20-11, 12-6) vs. 10. Saint Joseph’s – 5 p.m on USA Network

Something has simply not been right with Dayton this year. They have had some dominant performances, but when it rains it pours. This is why I am worried about the Flyers entering the tournament as victims of two of their last three. I also like Saint Joseph’s to be this year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament cinderella team because of how much Reynolds has turned it on down the stretch. Similar to their confusing losses to URI and George Washington previously, Dayton’s season ends in a dud.

Dan’s Pick: 10. Saint Joseph’s

3. Fordham (24-7, 12-6) vs. 6. Duquesne – 7:30 p.m on USA Network

I am all aboard this Rams team and their first 20-win season in decades. This is not a fluke: Urgo’s squad knows how to play. Duquesne will be a tough task because of how they crash the glass but Fordham has the size and toughness to match it. Look for Khalid Moore to be the x-factor in this one.

Dan’s Pick: 3. Fordham

Semifinals – Saturday, Mar. 11

1. VCU vs. 4. Saint Louis – 1 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

VCU has been one of the few defenses in the country to disrupt Saint Louis’ rhythm on offense. In the lone regular-season meeting between these two, which occurred last week, Collins turned the ball over a season-high 8 times. The Rams also had 84 expected points on offense, according to Shot Quality. If the Rams have anywhere close to that degree of offensive success, it is hard to see them dropping this one.

Dan’s Pick: 1. VCU

3. Fordham vs. 10. Saint Joseph’s – 3:30 p.m on CBS Sports Network

Unfortunately, Saint Joseph’s run will inevitably come to an end. The Rams will take advantage of an exhausted Hawks team and capitalize off of their mistakes in transition. One thing this Fordham squad has been known to do is outlast their opponents.

Dan’s Pick: 3. Fordham

Championship – Sunday, Mar. 12

1. VCU vs 3. Fordham – 1 p.m. on CBS

First off, expect this to be one of the more low-scoring conference championships. These are the two most stingy defensive teams in terms of points per possession allowed in conference play. When you break it down, VCU simply has more options offensively. Ace Baldwin is a star but this may come down to an interior game and that’s where Jalen DaLoach and Brandon Johns Jr. can have their way. Mike Rhoades and the Rams make their return to the Big Dance!

Dan’s Pick: 1. VCU

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