A-10 tournament preview: Billikens honoring the late Rick Majerus with inspiring season and hope for a title

Kyle Ringo
The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

The Dagger will be previewing this week's eight marquee conference tournaments. Here's our look at the A-10 tournament:

A-10 Tournament
Dates: March 14-17
Site: Brooklyn, N.Y. (Barclays Center)
Top four seeds: 1. Saint Louis 2. VCU 3. Temple 4. La Salle
Draw: Click here

Best draw: No. 3 seed Temple enters the tournament with a seven-game win streak the longest in the conference. It has beaten both potential quarterfinal opponents, Massachusetts and George Washington, as well as its most likely semifinal opponent in VCU and that victory is fresh in the minds of both teams because it happened in the regular-season finale. A case can be made that top-seeded Saint Louis has an easier road considering it has beaten every team on its half of the bracket this season.

Worst draw: La Salle. The Explorers are likely to get Butler in a quarterfinal game. The Bulldogs are the No. 5 seed, but could easily make a run through this field and win the championship. If La Salle survives it would be likely to face top seed Saint Louis in the semifinals. The Billikens just beat La Salle handily in the final regular season game.

Three players to watch:
• Rotnei Clarke, G, Butler— The Bulldogs' leading scorer. He had made nearly half of all 3-point shots for Butler this season.
• Dwayne Evans, F, Saint Louis — The Billikens' leading scorer and rebounder. He has scored in double figures in 13 straight games after doing so only six times in the first 17 games.
• Khalif Wyatt, G, Temple — The conference player of the year and its leading scorer (19.9 ppg). He has five games with 30 or more points this season.

Bubble implications: La Salle and Temple need to play well here and can't afford to be upset early. Massachusetts is 19-10 overall and 9-7 in the conference but lacks quality wins and certainly doesn't have anything resembling a signature win. Perhaps a run through this bracket could help fill those gaps and possibly allow the Minutemen to oust one of their conference rivals from this tournament and the next one.

Projected champ: Saint Louis. The Billikens are the only team holding opponents to fewer than 60 points per game. They have been the most consistent, losing only one time since mid-January. And three of its six losses came in November. Any of the top five seeds could realistically expect to win here. Butler and VCU are dangerous considering the postseason know-how they bring to the party. But the Billikens are also the sentimental pick considering they have put together such a strong season despite while dealing with the December death of their former head coach Rick Majerus.

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