Image: Charlotte Observer
Despite no major changes after this weekend of A-10 play, plenty of games from the past few days have set up some major implications for this upcoming week. Here are 3 of the biggest things you should check out in this week's slate of Atlantic 10 basketball.
Note: I erroneously said Davidson's game against Fordham was the first this season in which they shot under 30% from three. Shout out to @thebelkreport on Twitter for pointing out that they shot 25% against Rhode Island.
Will VCU be the one to snap Davidson's streak?
With the longest active win streak in the country at 15 games, and now their first Top 25 ranking of the season, it's a good time to be a Davidson wildcat. In terms of individual performances, there are a plethora of guys on this roster who can come up big when their team needs it. However, with each win, there's been one sour point in each of the Wildcats' box scores that's kept these games way too close for comfort. In a three point win against Richmond and a two point win against VCU, it was turnovers. Davidson committed 15 turnovers against Richmond, and 16 against VCU. Against Fordham, in a 3-point win, Davidson had their worst performance from three point range, shooting just 23%. Not making a three until the second half, their win against Fordham was just the second game this season in which the Wildcats shot less than 30% from three point range.
As the margins get thinner, and the Wildcats hit a tough pocket of their schedule, the end of their streak looms. I don't want to be the bearer of bad tidings; I'd love to see the Wildcats continue all the way to the tournament, and it's actually in the conference's best interests to do so in terms of at-large bids, but this is the Atlantic 10. This conference just can't help itself when it comes to knocking down the big dogs. Against VCU tonight and the Bonnies next week, Davidson will be on some very thin ice.
Is a big upset from Fordham looming?
In a similar situation in the other direction, Fordham's last two losses have shown serious signs that a major upset is in their future, even without Antonio Daye. Against Richmond, the Rams shot 41% from beyond the arc, their best performance so far this season. Against Davidson, Fordham put up another solid performance from three, shooting 32%. Darius Quisenberry, now Fordham's leading scorer, was a huge presence in both games, 23 against Richmond and 36 against Davidson.
Without Chuba Ohams, who sat with a minor knee injury, Fordham was able to challenge the best team in the conference by testing the limits of their rotation. Abdou Tsimbila, who got the start over Ohams, put on one of his best defensive performances of the season, while Rostyslav Novitskyi got some solid minutes in his first appearance since December 5th. This game against Davidson showed us that there is still a lot to learn about this Fordham team, and against another solid, yet young opponent like Dayton, Fordham might have a shot at pulling off their first big upset of the season. Dayton is an excellent team, but as we've seen so far this year, their inexperience has been their downfall on more than one occasion. If Ohams is healthy, and Fordham can force turnovers and stop the three, they'll have a decent shot against the Flyers.
Have the Bonnies been left in the dust?
Short answer; kinda. Long answer; as long as Bonaventure can start using their bench correctly, they may have a chance to right the ship. Not only does Jaren Holmes (38.2 MPG) rank number one in the country in minutes played per game, but three more Bonnies (Lofton, Adaway, and Welch) sit in the top 30. Osun also currently averages 30 minutes flat per game. After those five, Linton Brown has the next most minutes per game, at 13.
This starting corps is clearly one of the best in the conference, and there's a reason why they spend so much time on the floor, but when you look at the other top contenders in this year's A-10, every other team has at least 2-3 solid bench players. Koby Brea, Nick Sherod, and Nelson Boachie-Yiodam have all made great contributions off the bench for their teams this season. College basketball is a war of attrition, and without the pieces to keep you in the game long term, your starters are just not going to be able to keep up for a conference tournament, let alone March Madness.