A-10 Preview: Saint Louis headlines a deep field of contenders in Brooklyn

The Dagger

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

A-10 Conference Tournament
March 12-16
Site: Brooklyn (Barclays Center)
Top four seeds: 1. Saint Louis 2. VCU 3. George Washington 4. St. Joseph’s
Draw:Click Here

Best draw:  VCU went 5-2 against all the other teams on its side of the bracket combined during the regular season. The Rams would have to feel good about their chances of advancing to the final if they meet third-seeded George Washington in a semifinal as expected. They beat GW by 18 in their most recent meeting last month.

Worst draw: George Washington will likely face a dangerous UMass team in its first game just to try to advance to the semifinals. UMass might be the sixth seed here, but the Minutemen are capable of winning the tournament if they get on a role and play together. If George Washington can get by UMass, it would likely encounter a VCU team in the semifinals that it lost badly to last month.

Three players to watch:

Jordair Jett, G, Saint Louis —  The conference Player of the Year is the guy the Billikens go to when they need a basket. He can drive and shoot and Jett also plays defense. He was named to the conference’s all-defensive team.

• Briante Weber, G, VCU —  Weber was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference for the second straight year. He led the nation in steals with 111, which is a single-season record in the A-10.

Chaz Williams, G, UMass — A dynamic playmaker who is capable of putting his team on his back and carrying it to wins. He was ninth in the A-10 in scoring and first in assists.

Bubble implications: St. Joseph’s is probably safely in the tournament but winning its quarterfinal game would help. Dayton is probably the most at-risk of the top-five seeds. The Flyers earned late-season victories over UMass and Saint Louis but would only help its case with a few more wins this week.

Projected champ: This is more wide-open than some might think. There are as many as six teams in this conference with legitimate hopes of NCAA at-large berths and any of them are capable of a run here. No team has been as consistent as Saint Louis throughout the season, which is why it won its second straight regular season title. Sure, the Billikens lost three of their final four entering the tournament, but this is a senior-laden team with NCAA tournament experience. It’s also the best defensive team in the bracket

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