The Atlantic 10 Conference, which began conference games Wednesday night, looks as if it will have several strong teams competing for the title, but the University of Richmond may not be one of them.
The Spiders won the A-10 tournament last season, but lost its conference opener Wednesday, 75-70, to University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In a preseason poll consisting of the league's head coaches and media members, Charlotte, whose record now stands at 8-5, was picked to finish 11th out of 14 teams. Richmond was predicted to finish fifth.
With the loss, the Spiders dropped to 9-7 after finishing its non-conference losing four of its final seven. Richmond was able to come into this game on a two-game win streak after defeating Liberty University, 77-61, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 78-58.
Richmond isn't the only A-10 team struggling to reach preseason expectations though. Xavier University, led by last year's co-A-10 Player of the Year Tu Holloway, was nearly a unanimous choice to finish first in the conference.
After winning their first eight games to start the season, the Musketeers have lost five of their last six, including their conference opener to La Salle University. The Explorers meanwhile, predicted to finish 19th, could be a darkhorse to win the conference with a surprising 11-4 record that includes close losses to perennial powerhouses Villanova University and University of Pittsburgh.
Benefiting most from Xavier's struggles could be Temple University, picked to finish second. The Owls shocked the basketball world Wednesday night, taking down the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils, 78-73, to improve to 10-3. They are led by the high-scoring duo of Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt, and assist man Juan Fernandez, who can also produce a high point totals on any given night.
After these teams, four others finished strong in their non-conference schedules: Saint Louis University, University of Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's University and University of Dayton.
Dayton defeated Saint Louis, 79-72, in overtime Wednesday night. At 11-4 with a decisive victory over University of Alabama, ranked 15th at the time, the Flyers look to be Temple's strongest competition at this point.
For Richmond, which continues conference play Saturday at University of Rhode Island, its hopes at making noise in A-10 play will depend on its dynamic guard trio of Darien Brothers, Cedrick Lindsay and Kendall Anthony.
Brothers has been the hottest of the group, scoring 62 points in Richmond's three games prior to its loss to Charlotte.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com
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