Here are my Atlantic Ten power rankings heading into Wednesday’s matchups.
1. Butler (18-4, 5-2). Yeah, yeah. I know the 14th-ranked Bulldogs lost two of their last four games, one was a thrashing at St. Louis. But I’m not going to punish a team for losing to quality teams on the road, especially when Butler’s standout guard Rotnei Clarke didn’t play in the loss at La Salle.
2. La Salle (15-6, 5-3). With victories over Butler and Virginia Commonwealth, the Explorers are legitimate contenders for the Atlantic 10 title. La Salle is also 4-1 in games decided by three points or less.
3. Virginia Commonwealth (18-5, 6-2). The Rams followed consecutive losses to Richmond and La Salle with victories over Rhode Island and Fordham. Now, they have a week off to prepare for Saturday’s game with Charlotte. That’s not a good thing for the upset-minded 49ers.
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4. St. Louis (16-5, 5-2). The Billikens are hard to figure out. St. Louis destroyed Butler last week. Yet, it lost to struggling Rhode Island at home on Jan. 19. If the Billikens can be more consistent defensively, they will be a tough team to beat.
5. St. Joe’s (13-7, 4-3). The Hawks are arguably playing the best basketball among conference teams. St, Joe’s will look to win its fourth consecutive game on Wednesday at Dayton.
6. Charlotte (17-4, 5-2). I still don’t know how good the 49ers are. Yet, I’m not quite ready to jump off their bandwagon. However, all that could change after upcoming games against Temple, VCU, Butler, St. Louis and Temple, again.
7. Xavier (12-9, 5-3). The Musketeers’ three A-10 losses came in road games at Charlotte, St.Joe’s and Richmond – all tough places to play. But Xavier’s home gym, Cintas Center, is equally as tough a place to play for conference foes.
8. Temple (14-7, 3-4). So much for having an impressive final season as an A-10 member. The Owls are far from resembling the conference power it is recognized as.
9. George Washington (10-10, 4-3). The Colonials had an impressive three-game winning streak with victories over Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Charlotte. However, they had a reality check in Saturday’s home loss to La Salle.
10. Massachusetts (14-6, 4-3). Like Charlotte, I’m not sure about the Minutemen. However, UMass did post an impressive road win at La Salle on Jan. 30. Yet, I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid.
11. Richmond (14-9, 4-4). The best way to describe the Spiders is streaky. That’s because Richmond has followed losing streaks with winning streaks before mounting another losing streak..
12. St. Bonaventure (10-10, 3-4). The Bonnies have had some success with back-to-back victories over Temple and St. Joe’s. They’ve also gave St. Louis a scare. While not hopeless, don’t expect St. Bonaventure to contend for an A-10 title.
13. Dayton (12-9, 2-5). What happened to the Flyers, a traditional conference power? Dayton has lost five of its last seven games.
14. Fordham (6-16, 2-5). The Rams probably won’t win another game this season. However, Fordham’s two conference wins are against Rhode Island and Duquesne. That should keep them out of the conference basement.
15. Rhode Island (6-15, 1-6). These Rams are on a four-game losing streak. A lot of that has to do with Rhode Island’s field-goal percentage (40.5), which ranks last in the A-10.
16. Duquesne (7-14, 0-7). The Dukes are just bad. Duquesne takes a nine-game losing streak into Wednesday’s home game against George Washington.