By Kenny Van Doren
With the Atlantic 10 being controlled by Dayton University this year, it is obvious the most dominant player is a Flyer. This beast on the floor is sophomore forward Obi Toppin. Toppin is averaging 20 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 2.2 assists per game. While shooting 63.3% from the field, he is also showing some signs of defense with at least 1 block and steal per game. This guy does not play quietly; he likes to let others know by dunking in the flashiest way possible. With every game, Toppin increases his chances for the Wooden Award.
With a conference record of 18-0 and an overall record of 29-2, of course the team to watch is Dayton. The Flyers have dominated the Atlantic 10 and have beaten Power 5 schools. Their only two losses came in overtime to Kansas and to Colorado. Kansas has been a top five team for most of the season, while the loss to unranked Colorado was not what the Flyers planned, the Buffaloes were 9-2 going into the game. The Flyers have an amazing resume of dominance in conference and against Power 5 schools. Anyone can expect a far run from these guys as they most likely enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1-seed.
Although Dayton is a heavy favorite to take home the trophy, there is a sleeper team to watch this week. That team is the St. Louis Billikens. The Billikens stand fourth in conference behind Dayton, Richmond, and Rhode Island, but they have been the only team to keep a close game with Dayton. With their first matchup at home, SLU kept it close, losing by 2 in overtime. When they hit the Flyers on the road, they kept the game within 6 and held Obi Toppin to 17 points. Two standout players on both side of the ball to watch are guard Jordan Goodwin and forward Hasahn French. Both are averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. The Billikens have taken down both Richmond and Rhode Island this season along with beating or losing close to Power 5 schools. Look for SLU to make some noise in this year’s tournament.
The most obvious team that could win the Atlantic 10 is the Dayton Flyers. They are coming in with the best record in conference and out. They have arguably a top five player in the country, who is battling for the Wooden award, and have a lot of experience with most of their players being redshirted at one point. They look to win their first conference championship since the ’02-’03 season.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org