Atlantic 10 Tournament at a glance
Saint Joseph's and La Salle among conference teams vying for an automatic bid to NCAA Tournament.
Teams on the rise: Davidson finished off its first season in the league with nine consecutive wins and the regular-season title. Richmond has won six straight and looked very good doing it.
Team on the decline: Saint Louis has lost four straight and eight of nine. After being the league's best team the last 2 seasons, the Billikens, who lost all those seniors, finished last.
Look forward to: A possible Richmond-Davidson semifinal on Saturday. Love to see the Spiders' dynamite Kendall Anthony flying up and down the court against a team that can score with any in the country.
Worth noting: A year after getting a record six teams into the NCAA, the league is looking at just three at the moment - Davidson, VCU and Dayton. So, it would not be a bad thing if a team other than those three won the tournament to give the league a solid four in the NCAA . . . Not sure the 18-game regular-season schedule was a good idea. Did not help VCU's NCAA seeding that it had to go to Davidson in Game 17 and get hammered. Ditto Dayton with its finale, a loss at La Salle. Also hurt teams' chances to schedule more RPI-improving non-conference games.
Dark horse to win it all: I have liked Chris Mooney's Richmond team all season. The Spiders are playing great at the moment, but they have a very difficult draw, with VCU and then likely Davidson just to get to the final.
Teams that need help to make the NCAAs: Richmond is several spots removed from the field at the moment. Rhode Island is more than several spots. If Richmond makes the final, I think it would make a very strong case to be included in the at-large field, even if it doesn't win the championship.
Best player: Saint Joseph's sophomore DeAndre' Bembry leads the league in scoring. He is also top 10 in rebounds, assists and steals. On a team that really struggles to score, he has been brilliant.
Best shooter: Davidson's Tyler Kalinoski has been good all season, ridiculous lately. He was 8-for-10 from three on Saturday at Duquesne and got a career-best 32 points. On the season, he is 84-for-194 (43.3 percent) from the arc.
Ultimate title game: Davidson-Rhode Island, the league's best offense against its best defense. In the only meeting, defense carried the day on Feb. 25 at URI, but Davidson won the game, 60-59. The teams combined to shoot just 4-for-38 from three.
The pick: Davidson. In a season where offense was mostly a rumor, Davidson was a revelation. It finished in the top 10 nationally in points (81) and threes made (316). It was first in assist/turnover ratio and had assists on 61 percent of its baskets. It topped it off with one of the great offensive games of the season at Duquesne where it won, 107-78, while shooting 20-for-29 on twos and 20-for-36 on threes. The Wildcats shot that well from the arc with one player going 0-for-8. Nobody in this league can score with them and a championship would be a perfect ending for coach Bob McKillop who grew up in Queens, not all that far from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
- Dick Jerardi