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*Two weeks ago, it looked like Xavier was going to run through the Atlantic 10, but after back-to-back losses to Duquesne and Dayton, the Musketeers are now tied for first with the Flyers at 8-2. Saint Joseph's (7-2) is only a half-game back followed by Temple (6-3), then Rhode Island, Duquesne and Saint Louis, who are all 6-4.

But the schedule lightens up for "X" over the next three games with A-10 bottom feeders Fordham, Charlotte and George Washington, who are a combined 18-47.

*You win with defense. Gonzaga, Purdue and Kentucky -- the top three major conference teams in field goal percentage defense -- are a combined 53-18. Offense is cool, too. VMI and North Carolina are the only teams in the country that average more than 90 points and they are a combined 42-6.

*Niagara coach Joe Mihalich seems to find guys from Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., who can play, and this year he brought in Austin Cooley and Kashief Edwards. Neither freshman has received much playing time this season because they're playing behind several upperclassmen, but both are capable of becoming starters in most programs in the MAAC.

"They're paying their dues," Mihalich said. "Kashief and Austin are freshmen. They have their moments but we've had some great players in this program who as freshmen have had to pay their dues."

--Rodney McKissic

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