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Could the Atlantic 10 only receive two bids come March?

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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If Richmond is the Atlantic 10's best hope for a third NCAA tournament team besides Xavier and Temple, then the conference needs to prepare itself for the possibility of only landing two bids this season.

The Spiders' 73-53 loss at Temple on Thursday night leaves them in dicey position entering the final three-week sprint until Selection Sunday.

Despite a 20-7 overall record and a non-conference victory over Purdue, Richmond's RPI is hovering in the low 70s and its remaining regular season schedule offers no more opportunities to secure a marquee win to improve it. Even if Richmond defeats St. Bonaventure, Charlotte, St. Joes and Duquesne, the Spiders still might need a couple victories in the Atlantic 10 tournament to seal their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Beyond Richmond, the prospects of a third at-large berth from the Atlantic 10 are bleak.

Duquesne is 9-2 in conference play, but the Dukes' best non-league win was probably Wisconsin Green Bay.

Dayton beat Ole Miss, George Mason and New Mexico early this season, but chemistry woes have contributed to a 6-6 Atlantic 10 record.

And Rhode Island (16-9, 7-4) and St. Bonaventure (14-10, 6-5) both have the look of NIT hopefuls rather than NCAA contenders.

At this time last year, the Atlantic 10 was widely considered the best non-power six league in the nation and six of its teams had realistic hopes of earning an NCAA tournament bid. It was a mild disappointment then that only Xavier, Temple and Richmond earned berths last March, but that looks like the best-case scenario a year later.

The good news for the Atlantic 10 is that Xavier and Temple have put themselves in position to earn favorable seeds by ascending to the top of the league.

Both Xavier and Temple are No. 6 seeds in Rivals.com's latest bracket projection and appear to be comfortably in the field. It remains to be seen whether Richmond, Duquesne or one of the long shots can finish strong enough to join them.

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