Forget it. I’m not wasting time asking “Why does the Atlantic 10 have fourteen teams?” Twelve of those teams will be in the tournament and half of them are Catholic schools, so I’m ready for some hot Jesuit-on-Jesuit action…and I’m hoping that never shows up as a search term. Grab your fish sticks and take a look at Wednesday’s matchups.
#8 University of Dayton vs. #9 UNC-Charlotte
One of the University of Dayton’s most notable alums is author Erma Bombeck, who wrote a lot of books that were irresistible to women over forty, things with titles like Is it Hot in Here or Is It Just Menopause? or I’m Tied Up But My Fallopian Tubes Aren’t. I’m pretty sure I read both of those while using the bathroom at my aunt’s house. Junior forward Charles Little was named the conference Sixth Man of the Year and will be immortalized in Erma’s next book, You Drive the Lane, I Drive You Wild, But Who’s Driving Me to the Gynecologist?
According to their website, UNCC was named one of two North Carolina universities where students can get an Ivy League education at a state university price”. The site also notes that the majority of campus buildings are now air-conditioned, that the campus has sidewalks, and that the new phone books are here. Suck it, Dartmouth.
Unlike the Ivy Leagues, however, Charlotte is actually good at basketball. Freshman Ian Anderson averages 4.7 points per game, despite shooting his eye out with a bb gun. Ian, you should’ve listened to your mother, your father, your teacher, and Santa. Actually the ‘49ers (So named because apparently the school stopped renovating in 1949. Air conditioning? Really?) are led by the excellently named Leemire Goldwire. The junior guard has scored 20+ points in six A-10 games and he also hits 90% of his free throws.
The teams split the season series, but the newly air-conditioned ‘49ers are my pick.
#5 Fordham University v. #12 University of Richmond
It took Fordham four years to get their first conference road win…this year they’ve won five. The Rams are also enjoying their first winning season in fifteen years. Here’s where I should share some anecdote about perseverance or perhaps insert a picture of one of those inspirational posters familiar to cubicle dwellers, the ones where a tiny acorn sits at the foot of a mighty oak to illustrate some bullshit abstraction like DETERMINATION. But instead, I’m giving you this picture of Fordham graduate Thomas Calabro, aka Melrose Place’s Dr. Michael Mancini. Why? Because I’ve never seen a picture of a tree that made me want to touch myself.
Let’s also look at Richmond’s Duncan McClean. He averages 0.7 points per game. He grabbed one rebound all year. He played a season high 16 minutes in November against Longwood. Long…wood. And he was born in 1986, which makes me feel creepy. Moving on…
The Spiders’ top four scorers are freshman, led by All-Rookie Teamer Dan Geriot. Unfortunately, they only have four upperclassmen with A-10 Tournament experience. Even though they only lost to Fordham by 3 during the season, I think the tourney virgins go home early.
#7 St. Louis University v. #10 Duquesne University
According to the SLU website, their mascot the Billiken is a symbol of good luck that became a national craze in the 1900s. Well, thank God they chose that one instead of other things that were popular at then, shit like whale-bone corsets, poetry, or tuberculosis. The site also says that the Billiken brings you the most luck if you steal it…then they remind you that you can’t use any image of the Billiken without prior consent of the University. Maybe if I’d stolen a picture of a Billiken, I wouldn’t be getting fired. Oh, and maybe if I didn’t spend an entire workday writing about the A-10.
Sophomore guard Tommie Liddell earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team and leads the Billikens in scoring with 15.4 ppg, but senior Ian Vouyoukas is worth 22 points if you’re playing Scrabble.
Duquesne is one of the eight Catholic universities in the Atlantic 10 and with their current seven game losing streak, it looks like they gave up winning for Lent. Freshman forward Robert Mitchell was named A-10 Rookie of the Year and beautiful Scotsman Kieron Achara is the conference’s Student Athlete of the Year, on the All-Defensive Team, and had a starring role in several of my impure thoughts.
Fun Fact: The Dukes have retired five jerseys, including that of #12 Dick Ricketts, which is what happens if you don’t get enough Vitamin D.
The Dukes topped the Billikens during the regular season and I’m giving them the upset in the tournament too. Nobody really sticks to those Lenten sacrifices anyway.
#7 St. Joseph’s University v. #11 Temple University
A brief excerpt from the St. Joe’s fight song:
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Hawk/He is flying through the doorway ‘cause he never, ever walks” Holy shit, that sounds like it was written on a tight deadline. “Hawk, hawk, what rhymes with Hawk?” I personally would’ve gone with “He developed a polio vaccine/Before Dr. Jonas Salk.”
It’s also entertaining that the student who wears the Hawk costume earns a full scholarship. Hear that, high schoolers? Spending your weekends dressed as an otter and playing in Chuck E. Cheese’s jug band is more than a job…it’s an investment in your future.
This game has been billed as a Philadelphia rivalry, although Temple comes into the tournament as losers of eight of their last 9 games. My second favorite name, Dionte Christmas was given the “You Sucked Last Year” award as the league’s most improved player and he’s averaging an A-10 best 20.4 points per game. Head coach Fran Dunphy is wrapping up his first season with the Owls, having previously taught shop at my high school.
According to the website, the Owl was chosen as the school mascot because of its ferocity. When asked for comment the Owl said “Ask me about licking Tootsie Pops again, fucker”. How many times can the Hawks beat the Owls this season? One… twoooo… thuh-ree. Crunch.
#4 University of Rhode Island
URI is not only the A-10’s other Ram mascot-ed team, it’s also the medical insurance abbreviation for having to pee in a cup. Oh yeah, and Coach Jim Baron was named the conference’s Coach of the Year. The Rams feature All-Conference First Teamer Will Daniels and my third-favorite player name, Parfait Bitee.
Rhode Island had an actual live Ram as their mascot until the late 60’s when they realized it was no longer feasible. And by “not feasible” they meant “we’ve just discovered LSD and we’re in no mood to look at this sheep when we can…hey, that’s a giraffe! Washing dishes! Oh, touch my face again, man.”
The Rams will play either Fordham or Richmond. I wouldn’t rule out a Fordham upset. They beat URI by ten during the season.
#3 George Washington University
GeeDub is the only A10 team I’ve ever seen live, when they played Duke in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament. I was asked to leave the Greensboro Coliseum because I kept holding a giant sign asking JJ Redick if he’d like to go hunting with Dick Cheney. Shut up, it was funny a year ago.
The very wholesome-looking freshman Jeff Del Faeuro would like to open his own business after graduation. I hope it’s a business called “The Door to My Apartment”. Shut up, this is my post and he’s hot.
Over the past two seasons, the Colonials have won 27 of their past 32 A-10 conference games. In the tournament, they’ll face either Temple (who they beat) or St. Joe’s, who split the season series with the Colonials.
#2 University of Massachusetts
UMass (School Motto: Not Just a Pixies Song) is a regular season co-champion for the first time in ten years. The five previous seasons they held a share of the regular season title, they also won the conference tournament. They’re also riding a six game win streak into Atlantic City. Oh, and they’re 4th in the nation in neutral-site wins and have an 11-5 road record.
I’m not done fellating them yet. Conference Beast Stephane Lasme was named A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He tied an NCAA record with 4 triple doubles and blocked more shots (150) than 13 other TEAMS in the A-10. When asked to name something that most people don’t know about him, he responded “That I am the Man”. Um, no, we’re all aware of that. Really. Now stop spooning me.
The player bios also give the shoe size of every player. I’m sorry, Luke Bonner. Even though you wear a size 19, the Ladies don’t want a Minuteman.
The Pixies play the St. Joe’s/GW winner and if it’s the Hawks, I’m looking for the upset.
#1 Xavier University
OK, I’m just about tired of writing, so enjoy these bullet points:
• The Muskateers come into the tournament on an eight-game win streak.
• Since 2002, Xavier has the highest March win percentage in D1.
• This is Xavier’s 20th twenty-win season in the past 25 years.
• The team motto is “All for One” which I think is also the slogan for JC Penney’s.
• Senior forward Justin Doellman was an All-Conference selection but Stanley Burrell has a slight edge in hotness, so we’re going to look at him instead.
Xavier will face the winner of the Dayton/Charlotte game.
The Championship game will be held on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if it’s a duplicate of the women’s game (which I know you all watched…who doesn’t love layups?) between Xavier and St. Joe’s. Want to be safe? Bet on the Catholics.