A-10: Welcome to A.C.

By Matthew Shapiro - March 07, 2007

ATLANTIC CITY - Welcome to snowy Atlantic City, where, in just a few minutes, the Atlantic 10 conference tournament will tip off with the Charlotte 49ers (No. 9 seed) taking on the Dayton Flyers (No. 8).

Right now, things are pretty quiet in Boardwalk Hall. The 49ers are on the court running backwards and stretching their quads in front of maybe a couple of hundred people. I think snow, noon on a Wednesday and a first-round game wont make this matchup the most highly attended of the week.

As for the venue itself, it's a very interesting place for basketball. The building is huge, and doesn't quite feel like a basketball arena. To give you an idea of what this building is usually used for, their upcoming events are the Ringling Bros. Circus and Christina Aguilera's "Back to Basics" tour. The ceiling in here is one of the highest of any venue I've ever seen, and on one end of the building is a massive, ornate stage with a huge painting of a old old wooden ship whose name may or may not be "diversity." The court, which is generally the most important attraction at a basketball tournament, seems to be just plopped down in the middle of the place with some bleachers put around it.

As for the basketball, here is a look at how the field looks coming into the 12 team tourney:

1- Xavier
2- Massachusetts
3- George Washington
4- Rhode Island
5- Fordham
6- Saint Joseph's
7- Saint Louis
8- Dayton
9- Charlotte
10- Duquesne
11- Temple
12- Richmond

The favorites are obviously Xavier and UMass (both of whom finished 23-7, 13-3). Both of those teams will be very hard to beat, as UMass is riding a six game winning streak, and have won nine of their last ten, and Xavier has won eight in a row and ten of their last 11.

One sleeper team in this tournament could be the 11 seed, Temple. With Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale, the two top scorers in the A-10 (20.4 and 19.3 ppg respectively), the top seeds need to watch their backs, because if these guys catch fire, they could be hard to stop.

Well, the bands and cheerleaders are out, and both teams have completed their shoot around. Only one thing left to do now...lets start this tournament.

Posted by Matthew Shapiro at 11:50 AM on March 07, 2007

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