Owls remain A-10 team to beat

Coach Fran Dunphy has his Owls atop the Atlantic Ten Conference standings. (H. Rumph Jr/AP file photo)


Here are my Atlantic Ten power rankings for the week of Feb. 20

1. Temple (21-5, 10-2).  I would say winning 10 straight games by an average margin of 13.9 points make the 22d-ranked Owls the team to beat.

2. St. Louis (22-5, 10-3). Folks in St. Louis can talk about woulda been or shoulda been had the Billikens beat Temple on Jan. 11. But the reality is that St. Louis is on pace to make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003.

 3. Xavier (17-9, 8-4).  How about woulda been or shoulda been for the Musketeers? Had they beaten Dayton and St. Louis in back-to-back games, they would be battling for at least a share of the conference title. But 17 wins is not too shabby for a team that had to regain its edge after brawling with Cincinnati.

4. St. Joseph’s (18-10, 8-5). Let’s be honest – most St. Joe’s detractors laughed a week ago about the Hawks being ranked fourth. No one is laughing, now. St. Joe’s has won three straight and five of their last six games.

5. La Salle (17-9, 7-5).  The Explorers moved up three spots after handing Massachusetts its first home loss of the season. Can La Salle continue to climb? The Explorers have a tough home test against Temple on Wednesday.

6. St. Bonaventure (14-10, 7-5). The Bonnies could eventually take the fourth spot from the Hawks if Andrew Nicholson stays out of foul trouble.  St. Bonaventure has two winnable games against Fordham and Charlotte before hosting the Hawks on Feb. 29.

7. Massachusetts (18-8, 7-5). So much for being considered one of the conference’s elite teams. The Minutemen have lost two straight games and three of their last five. Here’s a stat that Big Five fans should enjoy: Massachusetts is 0-3 against Philly teams.

8. Duquesne (15-11, 6-6).  As of late, the Dukes are one of the conference’s worst road teams, losing three of their last four away from Pittsburgh.

9. Dayton (16-10, 6-6).  The Flyers have to be the biggest disappointment of the A-10, after some picked them to win the conference after victories over St. Louis and Temple.  Those victories are distant memories as Dayton has lost five of their last seven games.

10. Richmond (14-14, 5-8). The Spiders picked up a much-needed victory on Saturday. Prior to beating Charlotte, Richmond had lost seven of nine games. This win will give them a little confidence heading into this week’s two road games at St. Joe’s and at Xavier.

11. George Washington (9-17, 4-8). I was tempted to rank Charlotte – not the Colonials – 11th. But George Washington gets this spot due to winning a head-to-head matchup on Jan. 21. Things could change after Wednesday’s rematch.

12. Charlotte (12-13, 4-8). Basketball takes to a back seat to the 49ers’ off-the-court headaches. The 49ers forward DeMario Mayfield was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana last week.  Prior to that, K.J. Sherrill was suspended for undisclosed rules violation. Two other players - Derrio Green and Javarris Barnett – didn’t start against Temple due to rules infractions. 

13. Fordham (9-16, 2-10). The Rams have lost five straight games and 10 of their last 12 contests.

14. Rhode Island (5-23, 2-11). These Rams have lost five straight and 11 of 13 games.