A crowded field of 12 teams in this year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament has been reduced to four for today’s semifinals. In Game 1 No.1 Saint Louis will face No. 5 Butler. The Billikens opened as 3.5-point favorites and are 2-0 both straight-up and against the spread against the Bulldogs this year.
In the second game No. 2 VCU will square off against the surprising No. 6 Massachusetts Minutemen, who ousted No. 3 Temple 79-74 as 4.5-point underdogs on Friday. The Rams won the only previous meeting 86-68 as 12-point home favorites this season.
It will be a full slate in today’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinals starting with No. 1 Saint Louis taking on No. 9 Charlotte. Following that game, the No. 4 LaSalle Explorers will square off against the No. 5 Butler Bears, who are trying to win this title in their first season in the conference.
The early game in the bottom half of the bracket pits No. 2 VCU, another new face in the A-10, against No. 10 St. Joseph’s. The No. 3 Temple Owls take to the court in the day’s final game to face No. 6 Massachusetts.
This year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn tips off this Thursday night with four first-round matchups that feature the last eight seeds in the conference.
The first game pits the No. 8 Richmond Spiders vs. the No. 9 Charlotte 49ers. The winner of this game will advance to face No. 1 Saint Louis in Friday’s quarterfinals. Both these teams went 8-8 straight-up in conference play, but the Spiders won the only meeting this season by 20 points as 2.5-point home favorites on the college basketball betting lines.
Next up, the No. 5 Butler Bulldogs take on the No. 12 Dayton Flyers with the winner moving on to face No. 4 LaSalle on Friday. Butler beat the Flyers on the road in mid-January in a game that closed as a pick'em and ended its first season in A-10 play tied with Temple and LaSalle at 11-5, but dropped to fifth on a tie-breaker.
Then the No. 7 Xavier Musketeers and the No. 10 Saint Joseph’s Hawks will battle it out for the right to play No. 2 VCU in Friday’s quarterfinals. Saint Joseph’s beat Xavier 59-49 earlier in the season as a 5.5-point favorite with the total staying well UNDER the 126-point closing line for totals bettors at the sportsbooks.
The final game on Thursday’s slate is a matchup between the No. 6 Massachusetts Minutemen and the No. 11 George Washington Colonials. Whichever team comes out on top will square off against No. 3 Temple in the quarterfinals. The Minutemen dropped a three-point decision to George Washington in late January as 6.5-point favorites at home.
While there are a couple of potential sleepers in that opening group of eight teams - especially the Butler Bulldogs - the real action in this tournament will probably not heat up until Saturday’s semifinals. The potential matchups for that round if everything goes chalk would be the No. 1 Billikins against the No. 4 Explorers out of the top half of the bracket and the No. 2 Rams against the No. 3 Owls from the bottom half. Temple just closed out its regular season with an 84-76 victory over VCU as a 1-point home underdog.
Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Odds - courtesy of 5Dimes:
Saint Louis +200
Virginia Commonwealth +220
La Salle +850
St. Joseph's +2100
George Washington +7000
Thursday, March 14 - First Round
12 PM ET – No. 8 Richmond vs. No. 9 Charlotte
2:30 PM ET – No.5 Butler vs. No. 12 Dayton
6:30 PM ET – No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s
9 PM ET – No. 6 Massachusetts vs. No. 11 George Washington
Friday, March 15 - Quarterfinal Round
12 PM ET – No. 1 Saint Louis vs. No. 8/9
2:30 PM ET – No. 4 LaSalle vs. No. 5/12
6:30 PM ET – No. 2 VCU vs. No. 7/10
9 PM ET – No. 3 Temple vs. No. 6/11
Saturday, March 16 - Semifinal Round
1:30 PM ET – No. 1/8/9 vs. No. 4/5/12
4 PM ET – No. 2/7/10 vs. No. 3/6/11
Sunday, March 17 - Championship Game
1 PM ET – Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner