At the end of Ramblers’ first season in the A-10, they sit at a 10-20 record overall, with a conference record of just 4-14.
Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview
This top of this article has been updated to reflect games since publication.
As the Loyola men’s basketball regular season comes to a close, the Ramblers’ inaugural appearance at the Atlantic 10 (A-10) conference tournament is rapidly approaching. Loyola heads to Brooklyn for the tournament March 7 with the home finale against the University of Rhode Island March 1 and the last game of the regular season against La Salle University March 4 in Philadelphia.
Nearing the end of Ramblers’ first season in the A-10, they sit at a 10-20 record overall, with a conference record of just 4-14. Despite having a projected fourth place finish in the A-10 preseason poll, Loyola currently sits at the bottom of the A-10 standings, holding the No. 15 seed heading into the Tournament.
Coming into the A-10, Loyola lost nine of its players from the 2021-22 season — seven graduating and two to the transfer portal — including three players from the starting lineup. Nevertheless, Loyola gained four players from the transfer portal, including junior forward Philip Alston, who leads the Ramblers averaging 14.6 points per game.
The Ramblers have had a transitional season after losing players, along with the half-season exit from former forward Saint Thomas, who withdrew from the team for mental health reasons, according to Loyola Athletics.
The Ramblers’ four A-10 wins include two at Gentile Arena — the first against St. Bonaventure University and the second against George Mason University — with away wins against the University of Massachusetts and La Salle University.
The current No. 15-seeded Ramblers face a tough road ahead in the tournament with 14 teams ahead of them.
These rankings were accurate as of March 1.
No. 14 Rhode Island
Loyola has yet to take on the Rams but, as mentioned earlier, they only have one more win and one less loss than the Ramblers in A-10 play and the season. Another team in a transitional season, the Rams have first-year head coach Archie Miller, along with a young team holding only two upperclassmen in the 13-man roster.
No. 13 UMass
As Loyola’s only road-win of the A-10 season so far, a win against UMass is not out of reach for the Ramblers. The Minutemen are also under a first-year head coach and have only won five conference games, but are 14-14 on the season, giving them an edge over Loyola with more wins and experience in the conference tournament.
No. 12 Saint Joseph’s
A team the Ramblers have faced and lost to twice, the Hawks were able to shut down Loyola’s offense and power-through scoring runs, forcing a combined 27 turnovers between the two matchups which ultimately gave St. Joe’s the advantage.
No. 11 La Salle
Another opponent Loyola has yet to face, the Explorers sit right above St. Joe’s despite having one less A-10 win but the same 13-16 overall record. Though the team was projected to finish last in the conference, first-year Head Coach Fran Dunphy has exceeded expectations for the Explorers.
No. 10 Richmond and No. 9 Davidson
Both at 7-9 in A-10 play, Davidson holds the advantage over Richmond with a 14-14 record, though the Wildcats lost a significant amount of veteran players from its championship-winning team from last year. Loyola lost to both teams but only lost by three against Richmond Feb. 11.
No. 8 St. Bonaventure and No. 7 George Washington
One of the Ramblers’ two A-10 home wins was against the Bonnies, winning by a 12-point margin at 67-55. Though the Ramblers lost against George Washington, they would have a chance at a re-match with a win in the first round of the tournament if seeded last.
No. 6 George Mason and No. 5 Duquesne
The Patriots are Loyola’s second-latest A-10 win at home but lost by 14 against the Dukes in Pittsburgh, whose nearly brand new roster has proved to be successful with a 19-10 overall record, making them a tough team to beat.
No. 4 Saint Louis and No. 3 Dayton
Projected as the No. 2 and No. 1 seeds in the preseason poll, the Billikens and the Flyers are the teams to beat for Loyola. The Ramblers have faced both teams twice and have lost each one, but came close to beating Dayton in an overtime battle Jan. 31. If faced again, the Ramblers will have to figure out a game plan to stop these teams’ powerful offenses.
No. 2 Fordham and No. 1 VCU
Sitting atop the A-10 are two more teams the Ramblers have yet to defeat, but have proven they can compete with. Though the 78-64 Jan. 10 home loss against VCU was tough for Loyola, the team nearly beat Fordham Feb. 22, losing only by two at 71-69.
The first round of the A-10 tournament begins March 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with the first three games scheduled at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., all set to be broadcast on ESPN+.
Featured image courtesy of Steve Woltmann