Finally in the thick of the college basketball season, there was a lot going on in the Atlantic 10 this week. Here's my biggest takeaways from the past week of play.
Saint Louis on Their Way to Overtake Richmond
After dropping out of the Top 25 following their West Virginia loss, Richmond is barely clinging on to the top of the Atlantic 10. They're still a very solid team with a strong chance to win the conference, but the gap between the Spiders and the rest of the conference continues to shrink, due in large part to the incredibly strong non-conference play against Saint Louis. They've been knocking on the door of the Top 25 for the past few weeks, and if it weren't for dropping Sunday's game to Minnesota, I'm confident the Billikens would be there this week.
This prediction came largely after Thursday Night's win against NC State, the Billikens' second win against a Power Five school this season, and their sixth win in six games played so far this year. Taking advantage of a shorthanded Wolf Pack, the Saint Louis duo of Jordan Goodwin and Javonte Perkins combined for 36 points in an 80-69 home win, their second against a power five school, with Goodwin finishing the game with a double-double. Up until losing to Minnesota, SLU had been one of the best second-half teams in the league, which was proven against NC State as they dropped a whopping 51 in the final 20 minutes of play. They finish up non-conference play against UKMC on Wednesday, and with that one likely ending in a win, they are in very good shape heading into conference play.
It's not lonely at the top
While Saint Louis will be topping my A-10 Rankings this week, it is by no means by a large margin, as plenty of teams in the conference have been playing extremely well.
Richmond bounced back from an ugly loss against West Virginia by taking two straight against Vanderbilt (78-67) and Loyola-Chicago (75-73). I don't see them making it back into the Top 25 yet, but that shouldn't really be a cause of concern for Spiders fans. Jacob Gilyard continues to be one of the best defensive guards in the country for Richmond, recording another three steals against Loyola.
The Bonnies have finally gotten a start to their season, and they've come out of the gate VERY hot. The Bonnies dominated in their second win of the season against Hofstra, 77-45, after pulling off an early 26-2 run and never looking back. Head Coach Mark Schmidt outlined a few areas that need improvement, such as three-point shooting, but overall, the Bonnies are proving my claim of overhyped very wrong so far.
UMass and La Salle provided us with our first glimpse at conference play on Wednesday, and while the 85-66 score doesn't make a great game, getting an opportunity to see Tre Mitchell continue to be the incredible scorer he is, dropping 37 on the Explorers. Mr. Tondo and Mr. Zimmer, if you're reading this before the Bryant game today at 4, just know that the Bulldogs are not ready.
Team of the Week
So. Tre Mitchell (UMass)- Tre is currently leading the entire Atlantic 10 in scoring with 26 points per game, while also at the top of his team's leaderboards in rebounds (8 RPG) and blocks (1.3 BPG). Mitchell has done an excellent job at becoming a leader on this young Minutemen team, and will ensure his team will be a PRESENCE during the conference tournament.
Jr. Osun Osunniyi (Bona)- Osunniyi finished the Bonnies victory over Hofstra with a double-double comprising of 14 points and 12 rebounds. While the win was a well-balanced team effort, the fact that Osunniyi was able to put up 10 points in 12 second-half minutes makes him worthy enough of a spot on this week's A-10 team.
Gr. Grant Golden (RU)- I've officially marked my calendar for March 3rd, 2021, because that is when we'll get to see this year's Grant Golden-Tre Mitchell matchup. This week, Golden dropped 14 in both wins for Richmond, with 7 and 8 rebounds against Loyola and Vanderbilt respectively.
Srs. Javonte Perkins and Jordan Goodwin (SLU)- These senior guards are blazing a path for the Billikens in non-conference play, leading their team in scoring with 18.3 and 16 points per game. Surprisingly, Javonte Perkins just became a starter this year, peaking in his last year to bring home another A-10 title for the Billikens.
As usual, I will rank teams based on how well they played this week, which will provide them points for the overall season rankings. Fordham is the last team yet to play, and George Mason and Duquesne did not play this week, so the most points this week's leader can get is 11. Teams that I think are currently tournament worthy are marked in Bold.
This Week's Rankings:
Saint Louis (11 Pts.)
Richmond (10 Pts.)
UMass (9 Pts.)
St. Bonaventure (8 Pts.)
Dayton (7 Pts.)
VCU (6 Pts.)
Davidson (5 Pts.)
URI (4 Pts.)
La Salle (3 Pts.)
Saint Joe's (2 Pts.)
George Washington (1 Pt.)
Season Aggregate Rankings:
Saint Louis (39 Pts.)
Richmond (35 Pts.)
VCU (29 Pts.)
Davidson (23 Pts.)
Dayton (21 Pts.)
URI (20 Pts.)
UMass (11 Pts.)
George Washington (9 Pts.)
St. Bonaventure (8 Pts.)
George Mason and La Salle (7 Points Each)
Saint Joe's (6 Pts.)
Duquesne (5 Pts.)