Here is a look at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which begins Tuesday. Saint Joseph's and La Salle both open play at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Temple, the top seed, has a bye and will open play Friday in Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City.
We’re most looking forward to: Seeing if three Philly teams can get to Saturday’s semifinals in Atlantic City. Got to think league officials would not mind seeing that either. Would certainly help attendance. Temple, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s have had terrific seasons so the ability is certainly there. None of this will be easy as there is not a tremendous amount of difference between the top of the league and the middle and there are very few, if any, easy games.
Team on the rise: Temple has won 13 of 14. The Owls have been rising for months.
Team on the decline: Duquesne was right in it until mid-February and then lost four of its last five.
Worth noting: Since Feb. 1, Xavier has neither won nor lost consecutive games. . . Now that he has a team he can really coach, it will be interesting to see how Rick Majerus does with this Saint Louis team in a one-and-done format. Majerus has certainly proved he is very good with a short turnaround time (see Utah in 1998 national championship game) . . . This is it for Atlantic City. The tournament moves to Brooklyn in 2013. Not sure how many fans are going to move there, but the arena is supposed to be very nice.
Dark horse to win it all: Massachusetts. Any team that can score like this team and has Chaz Williams must be given a chance. The problem is that if UMass beats Duquesne in the opener, it will be looking right at Temple on Friday.
Team that needs help to make the NCAAs: Xavier and St. Joe’s are right on the cut line. So any win will be a good win, but a good win (say over NCAA locks Temple or Saint Louis) could be a difference-making win.
Best player: Nobody played better down the stretch than Andrew Nicholson, of St. Bonaventure. Nobody was better than Temple’s Ramone Moore during most of January and February. Nicholson was voted league player of the year. His finish (25.3 points, 11.5 rebounds over the final eight games) got him the award. So, don’t be surprised if Moore goes off in Atlantic City and is named MVP of the tournament.
Best shooter: St. Joe’s Langston Galloway. He was 84-for-177 (47.5 percent) from the arc during the regular season. Anytime a player gets near 100 made threes and shoots better than 45 percent, that is a serious shooting season.
Don’t foul this guy: Xavier’s Tu Holloway or Temple’s Khalif Wyatt. Holloway is 185-for-214 (86.4 percent) from the line, with six games of double-digit attempts. Wyatt is 141-for-166 (84.9 percent). He had double-digit attempts in three of his final eight games.
Ultimate title game: Would love to see a third Temple-La<TH>Salle game. Both have been well played and decided in the final seconds. There were often eight quality guards on the floor during long stretches of those games. There would be some serious shooting and passing if these teams played again.
The pick: Temple clearly has the league’s best offense. Its Lavoy Allen-less defense is not up to recent standards, which makes them a touch more vulnerable in a three-games-in-3-days format where defense can carry you if shots are not finding the net. Still, the Owls just have too many offensive weapons for most of these teams. I like them to win it for the fourth time in 5 years.