Explorers, Owls in Top 5 of A-10 power rankings

Saint Louis staked a claim to being the best team in the Atlantic 10 with a convincing win over Virginia Commonwealth. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Atlantic Ten Power Rankings

Here are my Atlantic Ten power rankings heading into Wednesday’s matchups.

1. St. Louis (20-5, 9-2).  Don’t be surprised if the Billikens are nationally ranked come next Monday. Tuesday’s 76-62 rout of 24th-ranked Virginia Commonwealth marked their eight consecutive victory. St. Louis also improved to 15-2 at  home. Last week: No. 4

2. Virginia Commonwealth (21-6, 9-3).  Despite the lopsided loss to the Billikens, the Rams are still in contention for the conference’s regular-season title. Prior to Tuesday’s game, VCU was forcing  turnovers on every third possession.  Last week: No. 3

3. Butler (22-5, 9-3). The 15th-ranked Bulldogs are getting back to full strength. Standout guard Rotnei Clark (neck sprain) didn’t play in a loss at La Salle on Jan. 23. Forward Roosevelt Jones (shoulder) was injured in a victory over St. Bonaventure on Feb. 6. And center Andrew Smith (abdominal injury) sat out the Feb. 13 loss to Charlotte. All three contributed in Tuesday’s rout of Duquesne.  Last week: No. 1

4. La Salle (18-6, 8-3). If not for a 61-60 home loss to Massachusetts on Jan. 30, the Explorers would probably garner national attention. That setback was their only defeat in the last seven games. Last week: No. 2 

5. Temple (17-8, 6-5). The Owls are hard to figure out. They can beat the likes of Syracuse, St. Louis, Charlotte and Massachusetts. Yet they lose at home to Duquesne, Canisius and St. Bonaventure. With that, we see how long Temple keeps this spot. Last week: No. 7.

6. Charlotte (18-7, 6-5).  The 49ers have dropped three of their last four games. But no one will penalize them, because those losses came to Temple, VCU and St. Louis. Their lone win during that stretch was a 71-67 decision at Butler. Last week: No. 10                                            

7. Massachusetts (16-8, 6-5). Talk about a rough week for the Minutemen. VCU blows out UMass by 18 points. Then it was unable to get off a shot in the final 17 seconds in a one-point loss to Temple. Last week: No. 5

8.  Xavier (14-10, 7-4).  After struggling in nonconference play, the Musketeers were headed in the right direction until Saturday’s 11-point loss at rival Dayton. Now, things are about to get tougher with their final six games against Rhode Island, VCU, Memphis, UMass, St. Louis and Butler. Last week: No. 6

9. George Washington (11-12, 5-5). Coach Mike Lonergan is getting the most out of his young Colonials, who have lost three of their last four games. They should get a much-needed breather Wednesday night against Fordham. Last week: No. 8

10. St. Joseph’s (14-10, 5-6).  I’m still waiting for the preseason-favorite Hawks to make a run. On paper, St. Joe’s is arguable the most talented team in the conference. Last week: No. 13

11. Richmond (15-11, 5-6). Injuries and lack of defense has hampered the Spiders all season long. They’re off until Saturday. Maybe the rest will rejuvenate them. Last week: No. 9

12. Dayton (14-11, 4-7). It’s hard to believe the Flyers won eight of this season’s first 10 games. They are in danger of not even making the A-10 tourney. Last week: No. 12 

13. St. Bonaventure  (11-13, 4-7). The Bonnies have shown glimpses of a good team with consecutive road wins at Temple and St. Joe’s. However, it’s clear that this team isn’t quite ready.  Last week: No.11                 

14. Rhode Island (8-16, 3-8). The Rams head into Wednesday night’s game against Xavier with a two-game winning streak. Rhode Island’s only other winning streak came against Southern Methodist (Dec. 15) and Georgia State (Dec. 22). Last week: No. 15

15. Fordham (6-20, 2-9). The Rams have lost six straight and nine of the last 10 games. Their only two league wins are against Duquesne and Rhode Island. Last week: No. 14

16. Duquesne (8-18, 1-11). The Dukes assure themselves of going winless in conference play with a Valentine’s Day victory over Temple. However, that had more to do with the Owls lackluster defense than Duquesne’s talent level. The Dukes have lost two straight since then. Last week: No.16

Follow Keith Pompey on Twitter @Pompeysgridlock