Jan 11, 2014; Amherst, MA, USA; St. Bonaventure Bonnies forward/center Chris Dees (15) and Massachusetts Minutemen guard Derrick Gordon (2) battle for a rebound during the second half at Mullins Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

How Many Atlantic 10 Teams Does Sports Illustrated Think Will Make the NCAA Tournament?

So it might be a little early to start looking at how many Atlantic 10 teams will make the Big Dance, but it’s not that early. We’re roughly two months away from March Madness, so why not take a look at some of the latest bracket predictions? Luckily for us, Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller has his latest bracket predictions up, so we can take a way-too-early look at how things might shake out this year.

West Region

George Washington Colonials logo 11. George Washington

So yeah, without opening fresh wounds, the Colonials are quite good. They’re currently sitting at 13-3 on the year with big wins over Creighton and Maryland. SI has them facing off against… Creighton again. Not sure the selection committee would do that, but GW looks to be a tournament team regardless. The only question is if they can keep it up.

Other URI opponents in this bracket: Arizona (1), Southern Miss (12)

East Region

Dayton Flyers logo
11. Dayton

The Rams have yet to face off against the Flyers this season, but they have two cracks at them coming up. Dayton is currently 12-4, with big wins coming against Gonzaga and Ole Miss. And much like George Washington, their success wasn’t exactly expected this season. Which also brings the questions about the Flyers continuing to win as conference play rolls on. If there’s one safe bet, it’s this one: at least one of the Rhody/Dayton games will be a nail-biter. They always are.

Other URI opponents in this bracket: UNC Asheville (16)

South Region

Massachusetts Minutemen logo
5. Massachusetts

Ah yes, the Minutemen. It’s weird seeing UMass as the cream of the crop in the A-10, isn’t it? Derek Kellogg’s group is currently the #16 team in the country, according to the latest AP poll. And they’ve logged big wins against LSU, New Mexico, and Clemson. The Minutemen have had a lot of close-but-no-cigar seasons since making their last Tourney appearance in 1998. Looks like they’ll be ending the drought this season.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams logo
9. VCU

Shaka Smart’s crew has had their fair share of hiccups this season. But, as good teams do, the Rams have righted this ship en route to a 13-3 record. Their only “big” win came against Virginia, but counting VCU out is not recommended. Between their defense and their coaching, they always find a way. They could very well win the regular season conference title, the A-10 Tournament, or both.

Saint Louis Billikens logo
10. Saint Louis

And the recent heartbreak for Rhody comes full circle. The Billikens cracked the AP Top 25 this week, checking in at #24 following a big win over the aforementioned Dayton Flyers. Yes, Rhode Island was quite close to defeating SLU, but there’s no doubt that they’re a very good team. After seeing them face off against the Rams, anything less than a ticket to the Big Dance this season would be quite a surprise.

Other URI opponents in this bracket: SMU (12)

So there you have it – the early picks have the Atlantic 10 landing five teams in the NCAA Tournament. So much for a “down year” for the conference following the losses of Temple, Xavier, Butler, and Charlotte. Also of note: Beller’s bracket has no A-10 teams in the Midwest region, and no Rhody opponents either. It’s certainly strange, and that likely won’t happen if five teams do make it in from the A-10. But either way, this is a good benchmark for where the conference sits at this point in the season. Not too shabby, huh?

Tags: Atlantic 10 Basketball NCAA Tournament

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