Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament Odds, Bracket, Betting Preview: VCU, Davidson Headline Top Contenders

Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament Odds, Bracket, Betting Preview: VCU, Davidson Headline Top Contenders article feature image

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Ace Baldwin Jr. (1) and Mikeal Brown-Jones (2).

The Atlantic 10 Tournament will tip off on Wednesday in Washington, DC. It should be highly competitive with the league having five 20-win teams jockeying for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson won the regular-season title after finishing with a  15-3 conference record. It will enter the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed and comes in as the betting favorite at +330 on DraftKings.

However, Dayton is the betting favorite on FanDuel at +290.

While Davidson and Dayton will certainly have a chance of winning the conference tournament, they are not alone among the top contenders for the title.

Atlantic 10 Tournament Bracket & Schedule

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The Favorite(s)

VCU Rams (+450)

VCU enters as the 3-seed and is my top choice to win the conference tournament.

The Rams offer slightly more value than Davidson at +380, especially given the way they closed the regular season. VCU lost to Saint Louis on Saturday, but prior to that, it had won its previous eight games.

Overall, the Rams will enter the A-10 Conference Tournament as winners of 11 of their last 13 games.

All season, VCU has been one of the best defensive teams in the country. It ranked fourth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, fourth in effective field goal percentage defense, second in turnover percentage and third in 3-point percentage defense.

However, it has turned it on offensively of late as well.

Over its last 13 games, VCU averaged 70.4 points per game, which is just enough when paired with its excellent defense. The team doesn't take many 3s — just 15.9 per game — but it ranked third in conference games in 3-point percentage, 2-point percentage and effective field goal percentage.

As the third seed, VCU earned a double-bye and will play the winner of Richmond vs. Rhode Island/Duquense. Barring an upset, it will likely see Richmond for the third time after winning the first two meetings. While it's difficult to beat a team three times in a single season, I like VCU's chances given the way it's playing right now.

The Rams would then have to go through Dayton and Davidson should the bracket hold serve. VCU split the season series with both of those teams, and three of the four matchups were decided by two points or less.

They might be tight again, but if VCU gets past Richmond, it will have more fan support against Dayton or Davidson with the tournament being in Washington D.C.

Davidson Wildcats (+340)

Davidson ran through the conference behind an offense that ranks 10th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency. It also ranks 10th in effective field goal percentage and eighth nationally in 3-point shooting.

Davidson earned a double-bye as the No. 1 seed. It will likely play the winner of Fordham vs. George Mason to kick off its tournament. The Wildcats went 3-0 against Fordham and George Mason and will be a sizable favorite over both.

On Friday, it will likely face Saint Louis or St. Bonaventure, and Davidson beat both in the regular season. Davidson will avoid VCU and Dayton until the conference tournament championship game. However, the Cats have a few causes for concern as well.

Davidson is a potent 3-point shooting team and that gains nearly 35% of its points from the 3-point line. However, playing on the three consecutive days it will take to win the tournament is harder on teams that are more reliant on triples.

The Wildcats also rank 171st in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, along with a mark of eighth in the conference. Against Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, VCU and Dayton, the Wildcats allowed 69.4 points per game.

Davidson's offense is good enough to overcome its flaws like it did in the regular season. However, its defense is worth pointing out if you're considering backing it in the conference tournament.

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Dayton Flyers (+350)

Dayton might be a year ahead of schedule.

Eight of its top nine players are freshmen or sophomores with the exception of junior guard Elijah Weaver, who is out for the season.  Despite its youth, Dayton went 14-4 in the conference and earned the No. 2 seed in the A-10 Tournament. It closed the season by winning seven of its last eight games.

Playing the game slowly is just how Dayton likes to do it. It ranks 295th in average possession length and 341st in adjusted tempo.

However, it also is one of the most balanced teams in the conference. The Flyers rank third in the conference in adjusted offensive efficiency and second in adjusted defensive efficiency. They also sit 11th nationally in scoring defense and third in the conference with a +8.6 point differential.

Dayton gets the winner of George Washington vs. Massachusetts on Friday. The Flyers won their three meetings against the two this season by over 20 points.

Should Dayton match up with VCU on Saturday, it will have confidence. While they split the season series, Dayton's win came by 30. However, it's likely to be another rock fight. The Flyers lost their meeting to VCU, 53-52, but it held the Rams to an average of 52.5 points in the two meetings.

Others With Value

St. Bonaventure Bonnies (+480)

St. Bonaventure was the preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10 and got up to No. 16 in the AP Poll. However, a skid, along with a COVID-19 pause, sent Bonnie stumbling to 12-7.

They closed the regular season by winning eight of their last nine, which included a sweep of Saint Louis and a win over Richmond.

St. Bonaventure will likely have to beat Saint Louis for a third time on Friday. But if SBU advances, it will look to avenge an 81-76 home loss to Davidson. The downside is it went 1-3 against Davidson, Dayton and VCU this season.

If St. Bonaventure is going to take home the conference tournament title, it will start on the defensive end. It ranked fifth in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency but second in turnover percentage.

The Bonnies can use their defense to spark some easy transition buckets when the offense bogs down.

With a senior-laden group knowing it must win the conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament, +480 is not a bad price.

Saint Louis Billikens (+750)

On Thursday, Saint Louis will get the winner of La Salle vs. Saint Joseph's, two teams it went 3-0 against with three double-digit victories. It will look to get over the hump against Saint Bonaventure should it advance.

Offense will carry the day for Saint Louis in the conference tournament. In the regular season, SLU proved to be the highest-scoring team in the league at 77.5 points per game. It was also the second-most efficient offense behind Davidson.

It thrived beyond the arc and on the glass, ranking second in the conference in 3-point percentage and first in offensive rebounding percentage.

Saint Louis went 3-5 against the other top teams in the A-10. However, it did close the regular season with the win over VCU.

The Billikens will need to get more stops to have a shot to win the conference tournament. In those eight games, they allowed 70.1 points per game. They rank sixth in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency and 88th nationally. SLU can also be prone to fouling and doesn't force many turnovers.

However, when Saint Louis is rolling offensively with Yuri Collins pushing the pace, it can play with anyone. Winning four games in four days will be tough, but at +750, the Billikens have value.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 22, 2024 UTC