Owls fourth in Atlantic Ten power rankings

Forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Temple are extremely inconsistent and plays to the level of its competition. (Mel Evans/AP file photo)

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

1. Butler (14-2, 2-0). The 13th-ranked Bulldogs received a scare Saturday when Rotnei Clarke sprained his neck at Dayton. It is unlikely that the guard will play Wednesday against Richmond.  But it’s not like Butler will need him to defeat the Spiders.

2. VCU (14-3, 2-0). If not for Butler, the 22d-ranked Rams would be the talk of the conference. VCU takes an 11-game winning streak in Thursday’s game against St. Joe’s. And the league newcomer is beating teams by an average of 18.1 points.

3. Xavier (9-6, 2-0). The Musketeers must be thankful that the conference portion of the season is here. Xavier snapped a four-game skip by posting consecutive conference-home wins against Temple and George Washington.  As a result, the Musketeers have won 49 of 50 A-10 home games. That's why they're annual conference contenders.

4. Temple (11-4, 1-1). On paper, the Owls have the firepower to contend with Butler and VCU for the conference title. However, Temple is extremely inconsistent and plays to the level of its competition.

5. St. Louis (12-4, 1-1). The Billikens have only lost one game since the death of coach Rick Majerus on Dec. 1.  Senior forward Cory Remekun leads the conference in field-goal percentage (63.6 percent).

 6. Charlotte (14-2 2-0).  Let’s be honest – no one knows how good the 49ers are. Charlotte’s signature win was Wednesday’s 74-65 home victory over La Salle. And the 49ers only have six victories over teams with winning records.

7. La Salle (11-4, 1-1). The Explorers are off to their best start since the 1989-90 season. Senior guard Ramon Galloway is second in the conference in scoring with an average of17.1 points.

8. UMass (11-4, 1-1). After a rough stretch, the Minutemen have won eight of their last nine games. They also have a very winnable upcoming three-game homestand against Duquesne, George Washington and Richmond.

9. St. Joe’s (9-5, 1-1). The Hawks haven’t exactly resembled the preseason favorite to win the conference. Will they can turn things around to become more than a paper contender?

10. Richmond (11-6, 1-1). Things could get rough for the Spiders without Derrick Williams’ physical inside presence. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound power forward will be sidelined a month an ankle injury.

11. Dayton (10-6, 0-2).  With a loss Wednesday at La Salle, the Flyers will start 0-3 in conference player for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Dayton ranks next to last in the league in field-goal percentage defense (48.5), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.6) and turnover margin (-7.5).

12. George Washington (7-8, 1-1). Remember former Villanova forward Isaiah Armwood?  The Baltimore native is now a double-double machine for the Colonials. However, his stellar play hasn’t prevented George Washington from losing five of its last eight games.

13. St. Bonaventure (7-8, 0-2). The defending A-10 tournament champion Bonnies take a five-game losing streak into Wednesday’s game against Xavier. It’s one of St. Bonaventure’s worst skids in more than 20 years.

14. Rhode Island (5-10, 0-2).  Rhody is 4-14 in conference play since the start of last season. While it hasn’t lead to more victories, the Rams are playing much better defense than a year ago.

15. Fordham (5-12, 1-1).  The Rams are traditionally the conference’s worst team. But they may give up their cellar-dweller label after beating Duquesne to start conference play.

16. Duquesne (7-9, 0-2). This season could become a disaster for the Dukes. Duquesne has lost four straight games and is expected to lose the next eight.

Here's my City Six Rankings:

1. Temple; 2. La Salle; 3. Villanova; 4. St. Joe's; 5. Drexel; 6. Penn.