College Basketball Betting Preview for Atlantic 10: Who Can Challenge St. Bonaventure?
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- St. Bonaventure is the clear favorite in the Atlantic 10, but Richmond could be a major factor in the title race.
- Meanwhile, Saint Louis and Davidson have a lot to replace from 2020-21.
- Jim Root breaks down the league from top-to-bottom.
Atlantic 10 Basketball Betting Preview
The quest for three bids continues in the Atlantic 10. Despite being a consistent top-10 conference, the league has not sent that many teams to the NCAA Tournament since 2018.
From 2008 to 2017, three bids were the norm — with as many as six squads punching a ticket in 2014.
Is this the year the A-10 resurrects its status as that three-bid league?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, a few beneficial betting angles should exist within the conference.
St. Bonaventure is set up for a special season as it is the preseason favorite after winning both the regular season and the tournament crowns last year.
All five starters return and four of those five were starters dating back to 2019-20, as well. That kind of continuity and chemistry should bode well — both in early season contests and the season as a whole.
Unsurprisingly, WynnBET has the Bonnies listed at a relatively short +1200 to make the Final Four.
Due to COVID interruptions, the Bonnies did not play much of a non-conference schedule in 2020-21, managing just two games.
The slate has some daunting tests this time around, though, but Mark Schmidt’s squad could be an appealing team to back early thanks to its established identity.
Over the past five years, the Bonnies are 52-37-4 against the spread (58.4%) as a favorite.
Who Can Bounce the Bonnies?
If not St. Bonaventure, then who? That’s the burning question at this stage.
If the A-10 is to regain its three-bid status, then several other contenders need to emerge — and emerge quickly.
With four returning starters (and a fifth that missed 2020-21 with injury), Richmond lurks as a primary contender.
Chris Mooney’s modified Princeton offense uses precise cutting and read-based motion to dissect defenses.
Center Grant Golden is a sublime passer for a big man and the Spiders have multiple shooters dotting the wings.
Plus, point guard Jacob Gilyard is poised to shatter the NCAA all-time record for steals. His pesky defense and aggressive mindset set the tone.
Saint Louis has to replace program pillars this season.
Physical four-year starters Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French are now gone after successful collegiate careers. Those two embodied the Billikens’ identity as tenacious rebounders and defenders.
The roster still has plenty of talent, but without those two, SLU’s modus operandi could change.
Keep an eye out for Overs with the potential for an improved offense and worsened defense.
Similar to Saint Louis, Dayton also has to replace program pillars.
The Flyers must compensate for the loss of star floor general Jalen Crutcher and sniper Ibi Watson.
Anthony Grant’s roster is loaded with all-conference candidates in the frontcourt with Georgia transfer Toumani Camara, Mustapha Amzil and DaRon Holmes II.
The backcourt is far less settled, however. Dayton’s success could come down to whether USC transfer Elijah Weaver and a pair of freshmen can solidify the Flyers’ ball-handling.
A perennial title contender, VCU is something of a mystery right now thanks to a cacophony of injuries.
Starting point guard Ace Baldwin is out until at least January after suffering an Achilles tear this offseason. Rising star Jamir Watkins is out for the entire season and key reserve Jarren McAllister joined him on the shelf with a torn ACL of his own.
Coach Mike Rhoades always has deep benches and cultivates tremendous defenses. Those tenets will be put to the test without Baldwin, Watkins and McAllister.
Both George Mason and George Washington possess real intrigue this season.
In Fairfax, George Mason hired media darling Kim English as head coach. English is a former Mizzou player who has assisted under Frank Haith, Tad Boyle and Rick Barnes.
He brought in some impressive transfer talent this offseason, most notably D’Shawn Schwartz (Colorado) and Davonte Gaines (Tennessee). But it’s his youthful vigor and charismatic approach that has many citing English as a future coaching star.
Speaking of transfer talent, George Washington has that in spades.
Jamion Christian has brought in players from LSU, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and UConn, all of whom could start. James Bishop (LSU) is the league’s leading returning scorer while Ricky Lindo (Maryland) averaged a double-double.
The Colonials’ defense was abysmal last year, though, and it could hold them back once again.
Davidson’s backcourt has questions, no doubt. But the foreign frontcourt trio of Korean sniper Hyunjung Lee, physical New Zealander Sam Mennenga and crafty Austrian Luka Brajkovic will dominate many foes.
Be wary early, though. In the past four seasons, Bob McKillop’s Wildcats are just 19-25 ATS (43.2%) in non-conference games.
Once his coaching sets in, though, that improves to 39-32-1 (54.9%) in A-10 play.
The Minutemen of UMass are loaded with guards.
Four of them — Noah Fernandes, T.J. Weeks, Javohn Garcia and Rich Kelly — have the potential to average 15+ points per game. As such, Overs could be appealing and head coach Matt McCall has historically been helpful in that department.
Since his arrival, UMass is 23-15 (60.5%) to the Over in non-conference games.
Duquesne is a tough nut to crack after losing a huge portion of its production.
If you buy Keith Dambrot’s new core of youngsters and transfers, though, you will find value on the Dukes.
Rhody finished with its worst record since 2013 last season and lost dynamic point guard Fatts Russell to Maryland.
However, the Rams do return second-leading scorer Jeremy Sheppard and a slew of other talents.
The Villanova Disciples
The bottom three for many A-10 prognosticators likely includes La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Fordham in some order.
Interestingly, all three are coached by former Villanova assistants under Jay Wright. They will emphasize the same things: skill, spacing and prudent decision-making.
They all may lack the collective talent to execute that strategy, although the Hawks’ Jordan Hall is a legitimate star.
Of note: Fordham is coming out of the Jeff Neubauer era. That likely means quicker tempo, better offense and worse defense. Does anyone else smell Overs?
A-10 Title Tips
Few books offer A-10 regular season title odds. But if/when they become more widely available, do not be surprised to see St. Bonaventure priced as the heavy, heavy favorite.
Value hunting can be difficult, but SLU or Dayton could come with enticing odds given the turnover both faced this offseason. The talent is there to mount a challenge if it all comes together.
Those odds would become even more appealing if they refer to the conference tournament, where chaos reigns.
Three of the last five tourneys have been won by a four-seed or lower. If you like someone lower down the board, it has happened before.
Of note: the event will be held at a neutral site in Washington, D.C.
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