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Atlantic 10 Odds, Second State of Conference: 5 Teams That Can Take Down Dayton

Atlantic 10 Odds, Second State of Conference: 5 Teams That Can Take Down Dayton article feature image
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Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Yuri Collins (Saint Louis)

The Atlantic 10 has been in league play for a couple of weeks, making now a good time to check in on the standings, odds to win the conference and the surprises we have seen so far.

Since I last wrote about the state of the A-10, the presumption that the league will only get its tournament champion to the NCAA tournament has not changed.

However, Dayton has rounded into form since the beginning of conference play and is now the odds-on favorite to win the regular season crown.

Here’s a quick look at the current standings:

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Davidson has been a model of consistency in the conference for more than a decade. Meanwhile, Loyola Chicago joined the A-10 this year and was expected to pose an immediate threat to league’s top spot.

Both teams have surprisingly disappointed, leaving the door open for a few new revelations to ascend the league standings.

Among the revelations thus far are the George Washington Colonials. G “dub” has started 2-1 in the A-10 with both of its wins coming in games it was not favored in.

The Colonials’ only loss (at Richmond) was sandwiched between impressive victories on the road at Loyola and home to UMass.

George Washington is still available at 200:1 to win the conference. I would agree with the bookmakers’ implication in that price; the Colonials’ success is not likely sustainable.

GW’s next three games against Saint Louis, George Mason and Dayton will be a massive indicator in showing just how “real” it might be this year.


The Favorite

Dayton Flyers (-170)

Dayton remains the clear favorite, especially considering its 3-0 start. All three of the Flyers’ wins have also been decided by double digits, and the three conference victories are part of a six-game win streak they will carry into their Tuesday night contest at Fordham.

All of Dayton’s recent success is still without Malachi Smith. Smith injured his ankle while playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis and has not returned since. If Smith returns soon, one would figure the Flyers should only get better.

Dayton is currently listed at -170 to capture the A-10 crown. Given the disappointing state of the rest of the conference, the Flyers may only be an underdog in one of their remaining regular season games: the season finale at Saint Louis.

All things being equal, I would take Dayton to win the conference. However, I do not believe it’s leaps and bounds better than its A-10 foes.

In taking a look at current pricing, let’s look elsewhere to get some better value.


The Five Teams That Can Catch Dayton

1. Saint Louis Billikens (+300)

The Billikens have sorely disappointed this year; so much so that Saint Louis fans are now calling for the potential firing of head coach Travis Ford.

As became custom in his days at Oklahoma State, Ford’s team on the court has not met the expectation prognosticators predicted based on the talented “on paper” roster.

Further dampening the mood was the news that came this past week. Fan favorite Fred Thatch Jr. suffered a heartbreaking ACL tear, ending his season and his career.

The early disappointment can still be overcome. There were a lot of positives to take from the team’s 23-point victory against the Bonnies this past Saturday. Point guard Yuri Collins had 11 points, coupled with an astounding 14 assists.

If the Billikens are to overcome their puzzling start and go on a run, it will have to be on the shoulders of Collins. At his best, Yuri can truly make a case for being the best point guard in the nation.

Yes, an A-10 guard is really that good. Fred van Vleet is evidence that great leaders and players don’t have to come from a power conference.

I would not stop you if you still want to place a wager on the Bills to win the league at 3:1. They are still extremely talented and capable of flipping a switch.

My hesitation would be their coach. Ford’s history of failing to get his teams ready for big spots is concerning. He also is not a great strategist in games, often relying on Collins and his team’s leaders to ad lib to create offense.

Ford is a good recruiter, but seems to put a low-ceiling on the Bills with his coaching ability.

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2. Duquesne Dukes (+3000)

Despite their mediocre 2-2 start in league play, the Dukes are my favorite play on the board right now. They have held steady in protecting their home court, with wins over Rhode Island and VCU. And one could argue their road losses were encouraging in more ways than they were concerning.

Duquesne opened A-10 play on the road at Dayton. Unsurprisingly, it had a really difficult day offensively in a 12-point loss.

After picking up the aforementioned wins, it may be a more difficult task to get over an emotional loss to Richmond on January 7. The Dukes scored 49 first-half points in the process of building a 15-point halftime lead on the road over the Spiders.

A second-half collapse resulted in a two-point defeat, spoiling a potential 3-1 conference start for Duquesne.

If the Dukes are able to put that difficult loss in the rear view quickly, I really like their team and their potential to climb the standings in the next couple of months.

Keep in mind the Dukes have already gotten two difficult road tests off their remaining schedule. The road trip to Saint Louis on February 18 is daunting, but is truly the only game I see on Duquesne’s remaining schedule which I would count automatically as a loss.

They are a great value at 30:1.


3. Richmond Spiders (+1000)

In contrast to Ford of the Billikens, I present to you Chris Mooney. Whereas Ford’s teams lack consistency and seem to underperform, Mooney has a proven ability to bring the best out of his teams at the right time.

In a year where there’s no clear dominant team in the A-10, don’t be shocked if the Spiders emerge from the pack.

Richmond turned it on when the lights were shining brightest last year.

Knowing they were more than likely going to be left out of the NCAA tournament field if they left their fate to the selection committee, the ’21-22 Spiders ran the gauntlet of the Atlantic 10 Tournament and forced their way into the field of 68.

In that case — and many others under Chris Mooney — pressure created diamonds.

After an opening road loss to Kim English and the George Mason Patriots, the Spiders have responded with two wins. Their most recent victory required overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit against a good Duquesne team.

Other than a road game at Dayton later this month, Richmond’s remaining schedule seems very favorable.

Should the Spiders carry the momentum of a huge comeback victory into their next few games, they absolutely could snowball momentum into an A-10 title.

The Spiders are worth a 10:1 sprinkling.

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4. George Mason Patriots (+2000)

Much like Saint Louis, George Mason has disappointed this year, and in recent years, despite having seemingly talented rosters.

When this happens, fingers almost always start getting pointed in the direction of the head coach.

The Patriots suffered three losses in the span of four days earlier this year in November. The “killer B’s” of Boston College, Belmont and Buffalo all bested George Mason, exploiting a defense that needed some structural work.

Forward Josh Oduro is the mainstay on English’s roster. In his fourth year as a Patriot, Oduro is enjoying a third consecutive season averaging double-digit points per game with a field goal percentage that’s better than 50%.

Along with Tennessee transfer Victor Bailey Jr., Oduro provides veteran leadership and poise on a very experienced roster.

If George Mason disappoints the rest of the season, it won’t be a result of a youthful roster being overwhelmed in big moments. The Patriots have veterans up and down the roster.

All seem extremely focused on the goal of becoming the class of the A-10 and earning an NCAA bid in their senior campaigns.

20:1 is more than a fair price for a team already off to a 2-1 A-10 start.


5. UMass Minutemen (+5000)

Now, for this one, I’m not suggesting you “open wide” before taking a bite on Frank Martin’s bunch.

I would only endorse a nibble.

Martin has a well-documented history of getting his teams to play hard. Frankly, he never seems satisfied with his team’s performance. And he always appears on the verge of erupting like a volcano.

But if the team he’s coaching respects him before fearing him, his approach can bear some tasty fruits.

Martin’s South Carolina team meshed at the right time in a magical year where it went on to upset Jayson Tatum and Duke in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament on the way to a Final Four appearance.

His Kansas State teams were known for a bruising brand of basketball and being one of the tougher opponents to face on a nightly basis in the Big 12.

Under the right circumstances, Martin’s teams can come together and thrive. Again, no one team in the A-10 has emerged as a clear target for others to aim at. Every single team has flaws in one way or another.

So, despite a 1-2 start and a surprising loss to George Washington, UMass is worth a 50:1 nibble.

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