Owls will clinch No. 1 seed with win

Temple center Micheal Eric and the Owls can clinch their second A-10 title in three seasons Wednesday night. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)


Here are my Atlantic Ten power rankings for the week of Feb. 27.

Even after a loss, Temple remains the top team in the Atlantic Ten.  Why? The Owls are that good. And the conference’s second, third and fourth place teams also suffered defeats last week.

1. Temple (22-6, 11-3).  Streaks have to end sometime. That’s what the 23d-ranked Owls learned Saturday when their 11-game winning streak ended at the hand of Saint Joseph’s. Still, Temple will clinch at least a share of the conference title and the A-10 tourney’s top seed with a victory over Massachusetts on Wednesday.

2. St. Louis (22-6, 10-4). The Billikens are coming off arguably their worst performance of the season, a two-point loss to struggling Rhode Island. No worries, though. St. Louis is still the league’s best team not named Temple.

 3. Xavier (18-10, 9-5). Kenny Frease needs to bottle up the 19-point, 14-rebound effort he had Saturday against Richmond. If the 7-foot center continues to be productive, the Musketeers will be a tough out in the A-10 tourney.

4. Saint Joseph’s (19-11, 9-6).  One game, the Hawks can’t beat a struggling opponent. The next, they knock off the conference’s best squad. But the impressive victory over Temple is the reason why St. Joe’s is being considered for the NCAA tournament.

5. St. Bonaventure (16-10, 9-5). The Bonnies are battling for a first-round bye in the conference tournament. But do they deserve it? St. Bonaventure is 0-4 against Temple, Xavier, St. Louis and Massachusetts – the league’s marquee teams.

6. Dayton (18-10, 8-6).  Just a couple weeks ago, the Flyers were the league’s biggest disappointment. These days, Dayton has transformed into the A-10’s hottest team. The Flyers have won four of their last five games. The lone loss came in overtime to Xavier.

7. La Salle (18-11, 7-7). It’s hard to knock the Explorers when they are close to winning 20 games for the first time since the 1991-92 season. But Saturday’s setback at Fordham was a heartbreaker.

8. Massachusetts (19-9, 8-6). At one point, folks believed the Minutemen would battle Temple and St. Louis for the conference title. That was before they lost three of their last four contests.

9. Duquesne (15-13, 6-8).  The Dukes have been doomed all season by lack of rebounding and failure to produce in the closing seconds. The latest example came when they imploded down the stretch and was outrebounded, 42-24, in Saturday’s 56-51 loss at George Washington.

10. Richmond (15-15, 6-9). A season after winning the A-10 tourney title, the Spiders are in jeopardy if not even going to Atlantic City for the quarterfinals. There’s a great chance this team will get bumped out in a first-round matchup on an opponent’s home court.

11. Charlotte (13-14, 5-9).  It’s easy to feel sorry for the 49ers. Charlotte did a lot of things well in Saturday’s game against St. Bonaventure. The one thing the team didn’t do is contain Bonnies forward Andrew Nicholson, who finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.  As a result, the upset-minded 49ers lost by 16 points.

12. George Washington (10-19, 5-9). With three straight double-doubles, David Pellom is playing as well as any forward in the A-10. However, performances like his often get overlooked on a team that lost seven of their last nine games.

13. Rhode Island (6-23, 3-11). By beating St. Louis on Saturday, the Rams showed what they are capable of doing. But at this point of the season, that win was perhaps the only good news for a struggling program.

14. Fordham (10-17, 3-11). There’s nothing like an upset victory to make you momentarily forget about another losing season. That was the case for the Rams, who defeated La Salle on Saturday.