Busting Brackets

Atlantic 10 Basketball: 2024 Offseason Pressure Index for each team

Saint Joseph's v Seton Hall
Saint Joseph's v Seton Hall / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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Thinking About March

Returning: G Enoch Cheeks, G Javon Bennett, F Nate Santos, C Isaac Jack, G Malachi Smith (redshirt last season)
***G Koby Brea has an available Covid year; C DaRon Holmes II is an NBA Draft Candidate
Pressure Index: 6/10 (9/10 if Holmes returns)

The pressure is always on at Dayton. Such is life with the resources and the fan support around the program, as at least challenging for an NCAA Tournament bid is expected. Assuming that All-American DaRon Holmes II heads to the NBA (and his consensus draft stock is just low enough that it's not a guarantee), the Flyers still bring back three starters and would be a pair of quality additions (plus keeping Brea) from being top tier A-10 contenders once again. It's easy to forget that Dayton has already added a preseason All-A-10 point guard, crossing every finger and knocking on every piece of wood that this is the year Malachi Smith stays healthy. And if Holmes does return, well the Flyers will need to find a way to top last year, and that means getting to the Sweet Sixteen.

Ideal Target: Selton Miguel (South Florida, 1). Dayton really doesn't have any specific needs, other than a second center, whether it's Holmes or someone to split time with Isaac Jack. Anthony Grant and company are probably best off investing in the pure perimeter scorer who they often seemed to lack last year. The Sixth Man of the Year and Most Improved Player in the AAC, Miguel put up nearly fifteen points per game during South Florida's shocking run to a conference regular season title and was a career best 39% from three, despite a significant increase in attempts. One reason for pessimism though, he shot 2-12 against VCU in the NIT.

Returning: G Des Watson, F Jayden Dawson, C Miles Rubin, G Sheldon Edwards, G Jalen Quinn
Pressure Index: 6/10

Loyola is right in the middle of the road right now. The Ramblers lose a terrific senior class but still have an All-Conference wing in Des Watson, a healthy Jayden Dawson and a future star in Miles Rubin. There are a lot of holes to fill on the roster but if Drew Valentine and staff hit on a few immediate contributors, an NCAA Tournament bid is certainly in play. Quietly, it really needs to be. After a Tournament appearance in Valentine's first year and a horrible second season, last year's A-10 co-Regular Season title was impressive, but Rambler fans will be expecting to hear their name on Selection Sunday in 2025 or 2026.

Ideal Target: Nana Owusu-Anane (Brown, 1). Loyola's search for a new starting point guard was setting up to be one of the most interesting and important subplots of the offseason, but Valentine moved quickly to grab All-CAA third-teamer Justin Moore (Drexel, 2). Now the attention turns to the frontcourt, where a pair of big forwards are needed, along with a replacement for Dame Adelekun. For that, the Ivy to Loyola pipeline could be back open, with another dominant low post player in Owusu-Anane. An All-Ivy player, he put up some of his biggest performances in the Bears' most significant late-season wins, fifteen points and thirteen rebounds at Cornell, twenty points at Yale, and nineteen points and fifteen rebounds in the Ivy League Tournament upset of Princeton.

Saint Louis
Returning: G Gibson Jimerson, G Larry Hughes II, G Kellan Thames
Pressure Index: 8/10 or 1/10 dependent on Indiana St transfers

SLU has already made big moves, hiring Indiana St Head Coach Josh Schertz to the same position, and Schertz promptly convincing Gibson Jimerson to return for his final season after entering the transfer portal. Now the focus turns to Indiana St's entire starting lineup, all five of whom are in the portal. After being the third team out of the NCAA Tournament, and following that up with a run to the final of the NIT, all five players will certainly have getting to the Tournament high up on their list when picking out a new school. If a handful of former Sycamores opt to join Jimerson, that will immediately become the goal. If not, it'll probably be a no expectations first season for Schertz.

Ideal Target: Robbie Avila (Indiana St, 2). The centerpiece of the best effective field goal percentage offense in the nation, Avila is already heavily rumored to be joining the Billikens soon. He's a triple nickel machine (thirteen on the season), thanks to his elite passing skill. The man known as Cream Abdul-Jabaar was also highly efficient on every shot he took with a shooting line of 54/39/81. He looks a super tall version of a guy who would walk into a local gym pickup game and be the last pick based on appearance, but don't be fooled, he's one of the most entertaining players in the country. Avila has lined up a visit this week with his teammates Jayson Kent (Indiana St, 1) and Isaiah Swope (Indiana St, 2).