Atlantic 10 Odds, State of Conference Betting Report: Don’t Target These Favorites in Futures

Atlantic 10 Odds, State of Conference Betting Report: Don’t Target These Favorites in Futures article feature image

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Frank Martin (UMass)

The optimism surrounding the Atlantic 10 in the preseason has unfortunately subsided. As a whole, the A-10's performance in the non-conference was disastrous.

An optimist could've argued the A-10 could earn three or four NCAA tournament bids following a two-bid season (Davidson/Richmond) in 2021-22. Now, after every presumed contender has suffered at least one arduous loss, it would be a shock to see the A-10 earn more than one bid.

Dayton and Saint Louis entered the year as co-favorites to win the conference. Despite equally underwhelming starts to their respective seasons, Dayton and SLU remain the favorites to emerge as the champion of a weak A-10.

The status quo remaining at the top of the poll says less about how the two favorites have performed than it does about the potency of the 13 other challengers. If the season ended today, only the eventual conference tournament champion would be in the NCAA tournament picture.

Let's take inventory of where every team stands entering the conference portion of the A-10 schedule beginning this week.

The Favorites

Dayton Flyers (+170)

The Flyers suffered nail-biting losses to Wisconsin and BYU — as well as humbling blowout losses to NC State and Virginia Tech — in the non-conference.

Truthfully, the Flyers' wins thus far are not impressive enough to push them over the edge in the committee's eyes. A neutral win against Wyoming is likely their proudest moment in 2022.

So, head coach Anthony Grant will be in charge of shifting his team's focus towards winning the A-10.

A rough start is not reason to throw the towel in just yet. In fact, it's very likely Dayton will be favored in every conference game except its regular-season finale at Saint Louis.

Of course, being favored certainly doesn't mean the Flyers are destined to finish 17-1 in the A-10.

The slow tempo they prefer to play with may also mean they will be in more low-possession, close contests than most.

Although I would agree that Dayton is likely still the best team in the A-10 after performing a process of elimination, I would not endorse taking the Flyers at a +170 price.

There's so much that can happen in late-game situations of close games, making Dayton a high-variance candidate to me.

I would also rather take a coach I'd deem more trustworthy.

Saint Louis Billikens (+180)

On the subject of coaches I don't trust, Travis Ford is at the top of the list. To be fair, even Billikens fans have made it clear their affinity for the former Oklahoma State coach has soured.

Ford has led the Billikens to five disappointing losses thus far, many of which the team seemed unquestionably unprepared for. And in close losses to Auburn, Boise State and SIU Edwardsville, late-game execution has left a ton to be desired.

With a great leader and disciplined point guard in Yuri Collins, it would seem a lot of the blame for the unpreparedness falls at Ford's feet.

So, why are the Billikens still at the top of the A-10 odds board despite a lowly 8-5 record? Well, Saint Louis has one of the most talented rosters — on paper — that the A-10 has seen in the last decade.

The aforementioned Collins has a case for being the best point guard in the country. Javonte Perkins, who's returning from a torn ACL last season, is back to being a key offensive contributor. And transfers Francis Okoro (Oregon) and Javon Pickett (Missouri) have shown flashes of their talent.

Despite the Billikens' rough start, I think a fresh beginning in A-10 league play may be the best thing for them.

I'm not inclined to endorse either of the favorites. However, if I had to take one, I would choose the Billikens before the Flyers.

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  • Richmond Spiders (+800)
  • VCU Rams (+1000)
  • Duquesne Dukes (+1600)
  • UMass Minutemen (+1800)

The team making the largest jump from their preseason expectations are easily the Duquesne Dukes.

Duquesne has exceeded expectations — in large part due to wins over Colgate, UCSB, DePaul and Indiana State. All were impressive victories that may have looked like losses when looking at their schedule in the preseason.

Although you have missed the boat on the 250:1 price the Dukes were listed at in October, they are still my favorite A-10 regular-season championship bet — even now at their 16:1 price.

UMass has been up and down in its first year under head coach Frank Martin. Martin is always critical of his team, making sure their egos are never too inflated.

Still, the Minutemen seem to be the perfect fit for a blue-collar coach like Martin. They pose a real threat to win on any given night in the A-10.

No team is going to be really excited to play a team that fits the mold of Martin's desired playing style. That fact alone makes them an attractive bet to win the conference.

The Richmond Spiders certainly played their best basketball at the right time last season. Chris Mooney led his team to an A-10 Tournament title and an automatic bid, spurring an impressive Big Dance trouncing of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Four of the six losses the Spiders have had this year have been by three points or less. Under Mooney's leadership, they will always pose a threat to have a dangerous offense and string consecutive wins together.

Taking On Water, But Not Sunk Yet

In its first year in the A-10, the Loyola Chicago Ramblers were expected to make a lot of noise and its presence felt. While it still could, the absence of Porter Moser and his noticeable pace on the sidelines is clearly being felt.

Further, Braden Norris has regressed — for whatever reason — from the form that aided Loyola to national prominence in recent years.

Barring a turnaround from their slow start, I don't expect conference re-alignment to be fruitful for the Ramblers in their inaugural year in the A-10.

My approach would be to sprinkle the board of teams I have classified as "threatening."

For example, if I had one unit to spend, I would not spend any of it on either of the two favorites. Instead, I'd use 0.3 units on Duquesne, 0.2 units on Richmond, 0.2 units on UMass and 0.1 units on VCU, Davidson and a sleeper in Fordham, respectively.

(Probably) Not Their Year

  • St. Bonaventure Bonnies (+6000)
  • Fordham Rams (+6000)
  • Rhode Island Rams (+20000)
  • George Washington Colonials (+20000)
  • La Salle Explorers (+20000)
  • Saint Joseph's Hawks (+50000)

Of this group, Fordham has actually been a pleasant surprise early in the season. The Rams have traditionally been a cellar-dweller in the A-10, but will undoubtedly upset a few teams in conference play with an improved roster.

Fordham and St. Bonaventurecould surprise me and emerge as the A-10 champion. Such a result would be a significant shock, however.

The remaining four teams unfortunately do not warrant much discussion. Their conference wins will likely only come from beating each other, which should result in all four playing on the opening day of the A-10 Tournament.

Rhode Island, George Washington, La Salle and Saint Joe's will be focused on trying to keep their conference games competitive, knowing that most other teams will have penciled them in as a win on their calendars.

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Nick Sterling
Jun 15, 2024 UTC