Owls top Philly team in A-10 power rankings

Temple's (1) Khalif Wyatt, center, cuts through St. Bonaventure's (45) Michael Davenport (left) and Charlon Kloof (right) in the first half. St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs Temple in Mens Basketball (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

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

1. St. Louis (21-5, 10-2).  You don't need to explain why the 18th-ranked Billikens are ranked No. 1 for the second consecutive week. The reason was on full display last week. St. Louis routed Virginia Commonwealth on Feb. 19 before beating Butler on Friday. The win over the Bulldogs enabled the Billikens to sweep this season's two games against 20th-ranked Butler. Last week: No. 1

2. Virginia Commonwealth (22-6, 10-3).  The Rams are unbeatable when they forces a lot of turnovers. Unfortunately for VCU, that didn’t happen against St. Louis. But it’s hard to hold that against the A-10 newcomer. Rhode Island, back on Jan. 19, was the last team to beat and have success against the Billikens. Last week: No. 2

3. Butler (22-6, 9-4). The Bulldogs are 2-2 in their last four games. The two victories came against conference cellar dwellers Fordham and Duquesne. Yet, the Bulldogs are one of the nation’s elite programs. For proof ask No. 1 Indiana and No. 2 Gonzaga, two of the teams Butler beat.  Last week: No. 3

4. Temple (19-8, 8-5).  Remember when coach Fran Dunphy said in the preseason that this was his deepest Owls’ team? Temple is finally living up his statement. The suddenly-balanced Owls are coming off three consecutive impressive victories. Last week: No. 5

5. La Salle (19-7, 9-4). The Explorers weren’t depressed by Thursday’s loss to the Owls. Depressed is too strong a word.  But they sure were heartbroken. That setback denied La Salle to win its first outright Big Five title since the 1989-90 season.  Other than that, the Explorers should still feel good about their NCAA tourney chances. Last week: No. 4.

6. Xavier (16-11, 8-5). If the Musketeers don’t make the NCAA tournament, it will be because of early season struggles. Since then, Xavier has victories over Temple, La Salle and 19th-ranked Memphis. I’m interested to see what the Musketeers will do against St. Louis (March 6) and Butler (March 9). Last week: No. 8

7. Massachusetts (17-9, 7-6). The Minutemen snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over Dayton. However, there’s no time to celebrate. UMass has tough upcoming games against Xavier (Saturday) and Butler (March 7). Last week: No. 7

8. St. Joseph’s (15-10, 6-6). The Hawks are coming off Saturday’s 71-59 victory over George Washington. It was their most-impressive victory since a 79-59 rout of Penn on Jan. 19. Against the Colonials, St. Joseph’s showed signs of the team picked to win the conference. How long can they keep that up? Last week: No. 10

9. Richmond (16-11, 6-6).  The Spiders are coming off their first A-10 road win of the season, a 72-55 victory over Fordham. The crazy thing is that Richmond was the conference’s top road team not that long ago. The Spiders compiled a 16-3 A-10 road record from mid-February 2009 through the 2010-11 season. Since then, they are 3-11 on the road in conference play. Last week: No. 11

10. George Washington (12-13, 6-6). Coach Mike Lonergan, who coached at Division III Catholic and Vermont, is going for his 400th career victory Wednesday night at Richmond. The game is also huge because the Colonials are locked in a four-way tie with Richmond, St. Joe’s and Charlotte for eighth place. Last week: No. 9

11.  Charlotte (18-8, 6-6).  What happened to the 49ers? Charlotte opened the season with nine straight victories and was 15-2 back on Jan. 17. But the 49ers have lost two straight and four of their last five games heading into Wednesday night’s game against Dayton. Last week: No. 6

12. St. Bonaventure (13-13, 6-7). Thanks partly to Eric Mosley’s record-setting performance, the Bonnies are in good position to secure the 12th and final seed for the A-10 tourney. His 39 points in Saturday’s 99-94 victory over UMass is the most points by a St. Bonaventure player in an A-10 game. Last week: No.13              

13. Dayton (14-12, 4-8). The Flyers are expected to drop to 0-7 in league road games on Wednesday night at Charlotte. On the flip side, Dayton leads the conference in three-point shooting percentage (38.0). Last week: No. 12 

14. Rhode Island (8-18, 3-10). The Rams have lost two straight and eight of their last 10 games. Rhode Island ranks last in the A-10 in scoring offense (61.8 points per game), field-goal percentage (40.1) and assists (10.8). Last week: No. 14

15. Fordham (6-22, 2-11). The Rams have suffered eight consecutive losses. But with victories over Duquesne and Rhode Island, they are assured of not being the conference’s worst teams.  Last week: No. 15

16. Duquesne (8-19, 1-12). The Dukes’ victory over Temple on Valentine’s Day seems like so long ago. Duquesne lost its three games since and is expected to lose its remaining three. Last week: No.16