There’s not much suspense with the Atlantic 10 Conference men’s basketball schedule pairings these days.
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The A-10 announced the pairings for next season on Thursday. Here are 10 things to know about the schedule and the state of the conference:
1. Repeat opponents: Dayton, which finished 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the conference last season, plays home and away games against these five teams: Virginia Commonwealth (25-8, 16-2), the defending regular-season champion; Rhode Island (18-15, 9-9), the 2018 regular-season champion; Saint Louis (23-13, 10-8), the 2019 A-10 tournament champion; Massachusetts (11-21, 4-14), which has recorded second-to-last finishes in coach Matt McCall’s first two seasons; and Duquesne (19-13, 10-8), which had a three-win improvement in conference play last season.
2. Familiar foes: This will be the fifth straight season Dayton has played Duquesne twice in the regular season and the sixth straight season it has played two games against Saint Louis. Pittsburgh and St. Louis are the two A-10 cities closest to Dayton.
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3. Where else Dayton plays: Dayton will play road games at George Mason (18-15, 11-7), La Salle (10-21, 8-10), Richmond (13-20, 6-12) and Saint Joseph’s (14-19, 6-12). The Flyers finished 3-1 against those teams last season at UD Arena.
In 2018, the last time the Flyers played two games in Philadelphia, they lost both. They have lost their last four games at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena and their last nine games at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena.
4. Who else visits Dayton: The Flyers play one game against these teams at UD Arena: Davidson (24-10, 14-4), Fordham (12-20, 3-15), George Washington (9-24, 4-14) and St. Bonaventure (18-16, 12-6). Dayton beat each of those teams on the road last season.
5. Best games: VCU has turned into Dayton’s biggest A-10 rival in recent years in part because almost every game is decided in the final minutes. That was the case twice last season as the Rams swept the Flyers, winning 76-71 in Richmond and 69-68 in Dayton. Go-ahead shots by Marcus Evans in the final minute won both games. The Rams have won four straight games in the series.
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The games will be just as important in the A-1o standings this season. The Rams likely will be the preseason favorite. They return their top six scorers. Dayton, which adds four transfers to the rotation and returns four of its top six scorers, will rank among the top contenders as well.
6. Toughest road: VCU, Dayton, Davidson and Rhode Island are expected to be the top teams in the conference. VCU and Rhode Island play the other three teams in that group twice, while Dayton and Davidson play each other once.
7. History lesson: This is the sixth season the A-10 has played an 18-game schedule. It played a 16-game schedule from 1993-2014.
The regular-season champion finished 14-4 or 15-3 from 2015-18. VCU’s 16-2 league record last season was the best in the conference since Xavier finished 15-1 in 2011.
8. NCAA hopes: The A-10 failed to win a game in the NCAA tournament or NIT in 2019 for the first time. Only VCU and Saint Louis made the NCAA tournament, ending an 11-year streak of the conference sending at leat three teams to the big dance.
In his latest Bracketology update in May, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi predicted VCU and Dayton would hear their names called on Selection Sunday and listed Davidson among the eight teams on the wrong side of the bubble.
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9. New faces: For the second straight year, two programs have new coaches entering the 2019-20 season. Last year, it was Rhode Island and La Salle. This year, it’s Saint Joseph’s and George Washington.
Saint Joseph’s fired Phil Martelli, the longest-tenured coach in the conference, after 24 seasons in March. The new coach is Billy Lange, who spent the previous six seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. Martelli is now an assistant at Michigan.
George Washington fired Maurice Joseph after three seasons and hired Jamion Christian, who coached the previous season at Siena.
10. Looking ahead: The exact dates of the A-10 games will be announced at a later date. Last year, the A-10 released the complete schedule on Sept. 5. Dayton’s non-conference schedule also has not been announced. Last year, that came out on July 30.
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