A-10 Championship Preview

The Atlantic 10 championship game is set. It has been since March 6 when the last A-10 tournament game was played. St. Bonaventure and VCU will face off this Sunday for the title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

A-10 Championship is Finally Here

The A-10 had a disappointing season in regard to the league’s standard. The Richmond Spiders were ranked earlier in the year and projected to take the conference crown. However, they finished with a 12-8 overall record and 5-5 in conference, their one notable win coming against a bad Kentucky squad. The Spiders finished ninth in the A-10, but this season’s top-tier programs have performed well.

St. Bonaventure Bonnies

St. Bonaventure (15-4, 11-4 A-10) won the regular-season title and have been playing some very under-the-radar basketball. Junior guard Kyle Lofton leads the Bonnies in points (14.2), assists (5.5), and steals per game (1.5), and controls the floor and pace. Osun Osunniyi was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and is a presence in the paint. The junior forward averages 9.3 rebounds per game and 2.8 blocks. Also, Head Coach Mark Schmidt was awarded A-10 Coach of the Year honors.

The Bonnies are currently a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and it should stay that way even if they lose to VCU in the A-10 championship. They have been a consistent program in a good league that happened to have a down year. That’s not their fault, however.

VCU Rams

Nah’Shon Hyland is the A-10 Player of the Year. The sophomore guard averaged 19.4 points per game and 2.1 assists. Hyland also plays great defense, averaging two steals a contest. VCU as a whole is a solid team. The Rams are 19-6 overall and 10-4 in conference. They suffered an early-season loss to No. 10 West Virginia but did pick up a key victory against fellow-bubble school Memphis.

According to Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, VCU is in the NCAA Tournament right now. They have the Rams projected as a 10-seed and 11-seed, respectively. This probably won’t change no matter what happens in the A-10 championship. VCU became safer after Boise State and Xavier both were upset early in their conference tournaments.

No. 1 St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. No. 2 VCU Rams- Sunday, March 14 at 1 p.m. ET

Many may have thought the A-10 had already completed its tournament. The eight-day pause between games wasn’t due to any COVID-19 outbreaks in either program; it was scheduled like this beforehand. St. Bonaventure and VCU split their regular-season series, and the tight matchup that took place on Feb. 12 should be a precursor for what to expect in the A-10 championship.

This game should be physical and come down to who hits more threes. St. Bonaventure relies on their starters a lot, while VCU has some key contributors off the bench. The Bonnies are experienced even though they have no seniors on the roster. The Rams get good minutes from senior Levi Stockard III, but are fairly young otherwise. It’s going to come down to Hyland versus Lofton and which guard can lead their team to an A-10 tournament title.

Winner: St. Bonaventure      

A-10 in the NCAA Tournament

It would be strange that the A-10 only gets one team in the tournament. Our Matt Waldman has the Bonnies as a 9-seed and the Rams as an 11-seed in his latest bracketology. Both St. Bonaventure and VCU have already earned invitations to the Big Dance despite who wins the conference.

St. Bonaventure: 8-seed

VCU: 11-seed

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