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Team-by-team look at Atlantic 10 Conference basketball

Team-by-team look at Atlantic 10 Conference basketball

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The Billikens and Salukis battle at Chaifetz Arena

Salukis Ronnie Suggs Jr. has the ball knocked away by Billikens Jordan Goodwin in the second half on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, during the game between the St. Louis Billikens and the Southern Illinois Salukis at the Chaifetz Arena. Goodwin was charged with a foul when he tried to retrieve the loose ball. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

(Capsules in Stu Durando's predicted order of finish)

1. Dayton

Record: 11-2

Rankings: No. 12 (NET), No. 9 (KenPom)

Best wins: St. Mary’s, Virginia Tech

Worst losses: None

The skinny: The Flyers flew into the national rankings on the strength of their showing at the Maui Classic, where they beat Georgia and Virginia Tech before losing to Kansas in overtime. … Sophomore Obi Toppin is the A-10 front-runner for player of the year, averaging 18.8 points and 7.9 rebounds and shooting 62 percent. … The Flyers have been ranked five consecutive weeks for the first time since the 1957-58 season. … All remaining Dayton home games are sellouts.

2. VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

Record: 10-3

Rankings: No. 50 (NET), No. 44 (KenPom)

Best wins: Louisiana State, College of Charleston

Worst losses: None

The skinny: The Rams returned four starters and were picked to win the A-10 in a preseason poll. … VCU has recorded more conference wins than any A-10 team since joining for the 2012-13 season. … The Rams’ defense continues to be among the best as it ranks No. 2 nationally in defensive turnover percentage and allows a league-low 58.9 points per game. … VCU has won 19 consecutive home games. … Marcos Santos Silva leads the team in scoring and rebounding with averages of 12.5 and 8.5.

3. Rhode Island

Record: 8-3

Rankings: No. 70 (NET), No. 73 (KenPom)

Best win: Alabama

Worst losses: None

The skinny: Guard Fatts Russell has developed into the team’s top scorer at 19.8 ppg and combines with Jeff Dowtin to form one of the league’s better backcourts. … Both are among A-10 leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio. … The Rams’ three losses have come against NET top 50 teams West Virginia, Maryland and LSU. … Cyril Langevine is second in the A-10 and 10th nationally in rebounding. … Reserve Dana Tate decided to transfer this week.

4. Richmond

Record: 10-3

Rankings: No. 79 (NET), No. 85 (KenPom)

Best win: Wisconsin

Worst loss: Radford

The skinny: Guard Blake Francis, who transferred from Wagner, leads the team in scoring and is fourth in the A-10 with a 17.8 average. … The Spiders do not have any seniors, … Coach Chris Mooney has switched to man-to-man after employing a matchup zone in recent seasons. .. Guard Jacob Gilyard, who is second in the league in assists, was a preseason first-team pick, and center Grand Golden was a second-team pick.

5. St. Louis U.

Record: 11-2

Rankings: No. 60 (NET), No. 92 (KenPom)

Best wins: Kansas State, Belmont

Worst losses: None

The skinny: The Billikens’ only losses are to Seton Hall and Auburn, which were both ranked No. 12 when the games were played. … Until this week, SLU was the only team in the country with two players — Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French —averaging a double-double. … The Billikens lead the A-10 in offensive rebounding and rebounding margin at plus-6.4. … Fred Thatch Jr. (illness) said he hopes to return to action Thursday or soon after.

6. Davidson

Record: 6-6

Rankings: No. 102 (NET), No. 77 (KenPom)

Best win: Nevada

Worst loss: Charlotte

The skinny: The Wildcats started the season poorly despite the return of defending A-10 player of the year Jon-Axel Gudmundsson and returning first-team all-conference player Kellan Grady. … Davidson’s streak of 809 games with at least one 3-pointer ended with a 0-for-15 performance against Marquette. … Davidson was picked to finish second in the conference. … Guard Luke Frampton has taken a personal leave and will not return this season.

7. George Mason

Record: 11-2

Rankings: No. 104 (NET), No. 132 (KenPom)

Best win: New Mexico State

Worst losses: None

The skinny: By reaching 11 non-conference wins, the Patriots set a school record for the Division I level. … Top player Justin Kier has missed a majority of the games with a stress fracture in his right foot and an ankle sprain. … George Mason is second in the league in rebound margin. … The Patriots have been a strong second-half team, outscoring opponents by 80 points while breaking even in the first halves of games.

8. Duquesne

Record: 10-2

Rankings: No. 96 (NET), No. 86 (KenPom)

Best win: Indiana State

Worst losses: Marshall, Alabama-Birmingham

The skinny: The Dukes were sitting at No. 20 in the first NET rankings but plummeted 85 spots with consecutive losses to UAB and Marshall. … Duquesne is tied for 10th in the country in blocked shots, averaging six per game. … The Dukes lead the A-10 in free-throw shooting at 79.2 percent. … Marcus Weathers, a 6-foot-5 forward, leads the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg and rebounding at 8.3. … The Dukes shoot 56 percent inside the 3-point arc.

9. St. Bonaventure

Record: 8-5

Rankings: No. 169 (NET), No. 123 (KenPom)

Best win: Rutgers

Worst losses: Canisius, Ohio

The skinny: Point guard Kyle Lofton leads the conference in assists per game, free-throw percentage and minutes played. … The Bonnies had a seven-game win streak ended this week with a loss at Buffalo. … Despite missing four games with an injury, Osun Osunniyi has 23 blocked shots to rank fourth in the A-10. … The team’s top seven scorers are freshmen and sophomores, and nearly 90 percent of its points have come from underclassmen.

10. Massachusetts

Record: 6-7

Rankings: No. 131 (NET), No. 185 (KenPom)

Best win: Rider

Worst loss: Harvard

The skinny: Freshmen T.J. Weeks and Tre Mitchell rank 1-2 on the team in scoring, combining to average 28.9 points. … Mitchell recently became the third Minutemen player to be named conference rookie of the week, joining Sean East II and Weeks. … The Minutemen have allowed five of their last six opponents to top 80 points. … UMass is the worst rebounding team in the A-10 at negative-5.2 per game.

11. La Salle

Record: 9-3

Rankings: No. 114 (NET), No. 148 (KenPom)

Best win: Wright State

Worst loss: Pennsylvania

The skinny: The Explorers are first in the conference in field-goal defense, holding opponents to 38.9 percent. … La Salle has won eight of its last nine with the only loss during that span coming against nationally ranked Villanova by 11. … Ed Croswell led the national as a freshman last season in offensive rebounding rate. He is averaging 7.6 rebounds. ... La Salle won the Gulf Coast Showcase, beating three mid-major programs.

12. George Washington

Record: 6-6

Rankings: No. 230 (NET), No. 236 (KenPom)

Best win: Delaware

Worst losses: Missouri-Kansas City, Morgan State

The skinny: Jameer Nelson Jr. is the son of former St. Joseph’s All-American Jameer Nelson. The freshman is averaging 11.1 points. … The Colonials are first in the A-10 in 3-point defense, holding teams to 24.9 percent. They are last in turnover margin, averaging 12.5 and forcing 10.8. … Arnaldo Toro tied the A-10 single-game rebound mark early in the season with 24 and was later matched by SLU’s Hasahn French.

13. St. Joseph’s

Record: 3-9

Rankings: No. 213 (NET), No. 246 (KenPom)

Best win: Connecticut

Worst losses: Lafayette, Towson

The skinny: The Hawks have played the conference’s second-toughest schedule, having lost to Villanova, Temple and Florida. … St. Joe’s leads the A-10 in 3-pointers with 10.4 per game but is shooting only 31.6 percent beyond the arc. … Guard Ryan Daly, who transferred from Delaware, leads the conference in scoring at 20.8. … The Hawks are in their first season without coach Phil Martelli after he led the program for 24 seasons.

14. Fordham

Record: 6-6

Rankings: No. 267 (NET), No. 253 (KenPom)

Best win: Grand Canyon

Worst losses: Manhattan, James Madison

The skinny: The Rams are last in the league in scoring by a wide margin, averaging 62 points, but they hold teams to 60 per game. … They were picked to finish last after doing so the previous two seasons. … Junior Chuba Ohams has recorded three double-doubles this season and averages 11.5 points and 8.4 rebounds. … Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym opened in 1925. The Rams have won 651 games in the facility.

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