NEW YORK – In the past five years, only on has the top-seeded team won the Atlantic 10 tournament. If any team can appreciate that fact, it’s St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies were the fourth seed in 2012 but ended up winning the A-10 tournament and advancing to the NCAAs.
Through the first half of the quarterfinals, however, the tournament is sticking to the script. Top-seeded Dayton started fast and cruised to an easy win over Richmond on Friday afternoon. Saint Joseph’s was headed for trouble with a 14-point deficit to George Washington but stormed back to win by six.
St. Bonaventure would have received a major boost with GW didn’t fall apart in the second half and beat St. Joe’s. The Hawks were among the teams expected to battle the Bonnies for an at-large bid, assuming neither wins the conference tournament Sunday afternoon. St. Joe’s and Bona are considered NCAA bubble teams.
Second-seeded Virginia Commonwealth was set to play 10th-seeded Massachusetts, which knocked out Rhode Island on Thursday. VCU is virtually guaranteed a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a win Friday evening. Dayton has a place waiting for them when it’s announced Sunday.
Third-seeded St. Bonaventure (22-7) would greatly improve its chances, if not clinch a berth, with a win over No. 6 Davidson. It’s not going to be easy. Davidson looked solid in its convincing win over La Salle on Thursday. If the Bonnies fall to the Wildcats, it would be considered a mild upset.
What would it mean?
The Bonnies wouldn’t officially be out of the NCAAs with a loss in the quarterfinals, but it would place an at-large bid in serious jeopardy.
First, the selection committee would need to decide how many A-10 teams deserved a trip to the Big Dance. Last year, three teams were invited. Over the past three years, A-10 teams have gone. It’s not clear how the committee would view an early loss in the conference tournament. Plus, the committee couldn't ignore Bona earning a share of the A-10 championship with Dayton and VCU.
A win tonight, and advancing to the semifinals tomorrow, would allow the Bonnies to make a much stronger case for an at-large bid. Dayton and St. Joe’s did what was expected. VCU shouldn’t have too much trouble with UMass. The Bonnies need to do their part to help their chances starting at 9 p.m.