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Andy Katz | NCAA.com Correspondent | October 19, 2018

College basketball: A-10 predictions for the 2018-19 season

Jeremy Brevard | USA TODAY Sports Images davidson wildcats basketball

BROOKLYN — The A-10 tournament caused the most disruption to the NCAA tournament bracket in 2018. 

Davidson’s win over Rhode Island in the conference tournament title game knocked out one team from the field. Don’t be surprised if you see something similar play out in 2019.

The league is deep with a number of teams that could upset the order. Davidson, Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s have the goods to be NCAA tournament teams before the season begins. George Mason has the talent to make a run and get the league four. But the Patriots certainly, like Davidson a season ago, could be that team that wins the tournament and gives another coach in the country angst. 

Following a visit to A-10 media day Thursday, here are my revised A-10 predictions:

OTHER PREDICTIONS: SEC | Big Ten | Pac-12

1. Davidson: The Wildcats were picked third in the preseason poll. But I’ve got more faith in this team and Bob McKillop. The Wildcats did lose Peyton Aldridge, arguably one of the best players in the conference last season. But Davidson returns the best player in Kellan Grady. He’s a possible NBA early-entrant. Grady is the most talented player at Davidson since Steph Curry. He’s going to put up monster numbers. But the Wildcats also have Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who will give the Wildcats quite a tandem. And the depth of the Wildcats on the perimeter will be even stronger with the return of Luke Frampton from an ACL injury. McKillop played it cool Thursday at media day. But he knows he’s got a squad that can win the league. Davidson’s run to the NCAA tournament through the A-10 last season was a springboard toward what should be a league championship season.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament.

2. Saint Louis: The consensus among the coaches was Saint Louis should be the team to beat. And talent-wise that should be the case. But let’s pause here for a moment. The Billikens need the transfers — Dion Wiley and Tramaine Isabell Jr., — to be ready to have a major impact on day one. Meshing in the transfers with returnees like Javon Bess is a must. If it all works out well then Saint Louis can/should win the league. But this much is clear — the Davidson game on Jan. 26 is must see. It’s a shame they only play once this season and not at Davidson. That just means if the two teams meet again at the Barclays Center for the A-10 title then the fans will be in for another treat.

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament. 

3. Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks are finally healthy. Phil Martelli had to deal without a full roster the past year. But now he’s got Charlie Brown Jr. and Lamarr Kimble ready to go. This team will be able to go full throttle, pushing the basketball and scoring at a higher clip. The Hawks could easily be the team at the top of the league if all goes well. 

Postseason prediction: NCAA tournament. 

4. George Mason: The Patriots have been building for this season since Dave Paulsen arrived. Otis Livingston II should be a first-team all-league player. This is a veteran crew in its core positions and the addition of Virginia transfer big man Jarred Reuter could be a difference maker. The 9-9 finish last season should be the springboard to a double-figure win season in the A-10 and put them in contention for a bid. We’ll know a lot more about the Patriots after games against Cincinnati in Florida in late November and at Kansas State in late December. 

Postseason prediction: NCAA bubble. 

MORE: George Mason hopeful for another NCAA tournament appearance 

5. Rhode Island: The Rams could make three straight NCAA tournaments. But that means Fatts Russell has to be ready to handle being much more of a headline player. Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine should be ready to emerge first-rate all-league players. Russell, though, could be a difference maker. He has the ability to take this team higher in the standings by being the lead guard who can’t be contained. His energy is contagious. First-year coach David Cox is moving one seat over and is well aware of the tradition of excellence that was created under Dan Hurley. 

Postseason prediction: NCAA bubble. 

6. UMass: The Minutemen were selected eighth in the league predictions Thursday. I’m higher on this squad with the return of guard Luwane Pipkins and the host of transfers. When I asked coach Matt McCall who could be a player that has an impact late in the season who isn’t a household name now — the name was center Rashaan Holloway. If the Minutemen have the balance necessary then they will be a tough out this season.

Postseason prediction: Possible NIT.

7. VCU: The Rams need to be a factor in the A-10. This league is much stronger when the league’s marquee fan bases have a team near the top. Mike Rhoades is in his second season and with De’Riante Jenkins back on board the Rams have a player who can compete for all-league first-team status. Rhoades said the Rams should be back to playing up and down, making them a difficult team to deal with this season. 

Postseason prediction: Possible NIT.

8. Dayton: The Flyers have a first-team player of the year in Josh Cunningham. And they’ve got the best fan base in the league. The A-10, as much as VCU or maybe even more so, needs the Flyers to be high-level. Dayton is creeping back up but the Flyers may fall a bit short of the postseason. 

Postseason prediction: None. 

9. St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt always maximizes talent. Always. But, even Schmidt, admits this could be a bridge season. The Bonnies lost A LOT after making the NCAA tournament with guard Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley departing. The question will be can Courtney Stockard be a standalone star. He’ll have to shoulder a major load after being a complementary player. That’s the unknown. But Schmidt could definitely have this team finish higher than projected. Stay tuned. 

Postseason prediction: None. 

10. Duquesne: The Dukes are on the up under Keith Dambrot. He gets it. Dambrot said very clearly that he wants the Dukes to be a team that helps the A-10, not hurts it going forward. Duquesne got off to a 9-3 start but then slid later in the season, losing eight of nine. Eric Williams could be a double-double player — as a guard. If the Dukes get that kind of season out of Williams then, like the Bonnies, they could finish higher. 

Postseason prediction: None.

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11. Richmond: The Spiders have a disruptive guard in Jacob Gilyard, who averaged nearly three steals a game. If the Spiders can control the game much more defensively then they will be a difficult team to put out. The Spiders’ improvement shows the depth of the league.

Postseason prediction: None. 

12. La Salle: The Explorers are under the direction of Ashley Howard, who knows Philadelphia well. He’s also a disciple of Jay Wright after working at Villanova. He’s got a possible first-team all-league player in Pookie Powell. Having a starting guard, who can control the game from his handle, gives the Explorers a starting point to pull off some surprises. 

Postseason prediction: None. 

13. George Washington: Maurice Joseph is hitting a restart in Year Two after losing Yuta Watanabe. But he is overwhelmingly optimistic. He’s putting his imprint on this squad and the hope is that the host of newcomers and the return of Terry Nolan Jr., puts the Colonials heading in the right direction. 

Postseason prediction: None. 

14. Fordham: Jeff Neubauer said he’s got a new-look roster and one that he’s comfortable with in getting this program back on track. The Rams are one of the biggest unknowns in the league. So, let’s give them some time to see if Neubauer is right. The Rams have a heavy home schedule, with only three games away from the Bronx before 2019. Come out of that with a losing record and there will be cause for concern.

Postseason prediction: None.

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