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Atlantic 10 Basketball: 2024 conference tournament preview and predictions

March represents a new beginning for every college basketball program. This week, each A-10 team will fight to punch their ticket to the Big Dance. Will we be surprised to see which team earns an automatic bid on Sunday?

Mar 9, 2024; Henrico, VA, USA;  A general view of the trophy prior to the Atlantic 10 Conference
Mar 9, 2024; Henrico, VA, USA; A general view of the trophy prior to the Atlantic 10 Conference / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
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Predicting the tournament – Semifinals and Finals

Semifinals

(1) Richmond vs (5) VCU

Well, here we are, the final four. The first game will feature Richmond and VCU, two of the Atlantic 10's dominant teams who always seem to make noise in March; however, this time, Richmond will be the team to walk away victorious. VCU finds this their most brutal battle and is quickly put to bed by the Spider's experience. As predicted, the No. 1 seed is heading to the championship game. The Spiders are poised for a championship and will play for that honor on Sunday, giving them a chance to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The last time the Spiders made the big dance was in 2022, and now coach Mooney has a chance to get his team back there if they win on Sunday.

Prediction: Richmond

(2) Loyola Chicago vs (3) Dayton

Here is the rematch of one of the best games of the regular season that Atlantic 10 fans will ask for on Saturday when No. 2 Loyola Chicago takes on No. 3 Dayton. The last time these two programs faced each other, the Ramblers finished on top when they took down the Flyers at home and passed them in the standings, which played a crucial role in their ability to secure the second seed in the bracket and co-regular season championship. Still, this time around, Dayton will get their revenge on Loyola Chicago. This chess match between Coach Valentine and Coach Grant will come down to the wire, but Dayton is far too talented to be stopped here and will end the Rambler's season. Dayton is a guard-heavy team, but they also have some of the best forwards in the league and the nation. This team is so diverse, and with their talent on both sides of the floor, they can hurt any opponent with scoring and defense, and they will do that to Loyola Chicago to advance to the championship game to get a crack at Richmond.

Prediction: Dayton

Finals

(1) Richmond vs (3) Dayton

Well, we've finally reached Saturday, where two of the league's top teams will square off at the Barclays Center with an Atlantic 10 championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. This time around, it happens to be two of the three top teams in the league that make it to the big game on Sunday. Still, at the end of the night, there can only be one winner who will be hoisting up the trophy with confetti falling from the rafters and would later go on to hear their name called during the Selection Sunday Show.

With the stakes set high, both teams will come out of the gates with immense energy and adrenaline, but it will be a game of runs. One team will get tired and fatigued, and the other team will go on a run and vice versa, but it will come down to timing which team is riding that high in the game's final two minutes. Dayton's bigs of Holmes II, Santos, and Cheeks will come to play and force Richmond to foul in those late-game situations, which may find the Spiders in severe foul trouble. When they've cut the deficit back down, Dayton's guards Elvis and Brea will knock down some clutch shots from mid-range and at the charity stripe to seal the deal.

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With that, the Dayton Flyers will cut down the nets as your 2024 Atlantic 10 Tournament Champions with their ticket punched to the Big Dance. And you guessed it, the tournament's most valuable player would be Holmes II.

Prediction: Dayton