A-10: Tournament Wrap

By Matthew Shapiro - March 10, 2007

ATLANTIC CITY - Twenty-two hours of play, twelve teams, eleven games, four days and one champion. That was interesting.

The final buzzer has sounded here in Boardwalk Hall, signaling the end of this four day relationship with me, the A-10 Tournament and Atlantic City. What a trip it was. Let's look back at some of the trip's highlights (and lowlights) for the final time.

It feels like about two weeks since the day I pulled into the parking lot here. Turns out it was only Wednesday.

I think the main story-line of this tournament was parity, as most every game was close. From the first day to the last, the tournament provided us with great games. With only a few exceptions, the conference showed its depth these four days, with teams like St. Louis and URI pulling major upsets to move deep into the field. Even Richmond, the team that most thought would be laughed out of the building by Fordham in the first round, fell by only two, 63-61.

Here is a look at some of the best and worst moments of the past 81 hours:

Best Game of the Tournament:
Since I have a soft spot for the underdog, this is going to be a two-way tie. On day two, No. 7 seed St. Louis shocked No. 2 seed UMass, 74-71 in an overtime thriller, derailing UMass' NCAA Tournament hopes and making it look like the A-10 would become just a one bid conference. Then, a day later, URI faced off against Xavier, a team that was favored by more than 11 points and was virtually locked into Saturday's final by fans and bracket pundits, and walked away with the 79-71 win. A day after an upset made the A-10 look like it was destined to be a one bid conference, another upset turned the tables and will give the A-10 two.

Worst Game of the Tournament:
The first game of this whole shebang, Dayton vs. Charlotte gave us the worst game. I guess that's good, because everything was uphill from there. The game started off close, but by the end, Charlotte looked like they were ready to get out of snowy New Jersey and head back to the south. The final was 81-63, and boy was it ugly.

Player of the Tournament:
I have to stick with my pick for Tournament MOP, and go with Maureece Rice. Rice averaged 16.6 points per game, and, most importantly, was the best player on the best team here. The next most worthy candidate (and the winner of this award had his team won) is Will Daniels from URI, who averaged 19.6 per game over the three games.

Up Next:
We will find out tomorrow where GW and (most likely) Xavier are placed in the tournament. If I had to take a guess, I would say that you'll see Xavier turn out to be a seven seed and GW somewhere around a 13. I don't really see GW becoming a Cinderella in the Big Dance, because I just don't think they have the players to compete against a No. 4 seed in the Tournament.

Xavier, on the other hand, could win a game or two. They will be favored against a ten seed (if my seven seed prediction comes true) and could possibly shock a two seed in round two. With Oklahoma transfer Drew Lavender, and the athletic ability of Justin Doellman and Justin Cage, there's no reason the X men can't turn some heads in the coming weeks.

Well, that's all for me from Atlantic City. I hope you all have had as much fun reading this as I have had writing it, and may all your NCAA basketball dreams come true in the coming weeks...

Posted by Matthew Shapiro at 09:18 PM on March 10, 2007

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