Atlantic 10 Tournament 2012: UMass Falls To St. Bonaventure In Semi-Finals

After a stunning upset win over No. 21 Temple, the UMass Minutemen bowed out of the Atlantic 10 tournament, as they fell to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies by a score of 84-80 on Saturday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

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UMass Vs. St. Bonaventure Final Score: Bonnies Defeat Minutemen, 84-80

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen by four points on Saturday in the semi-finals of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. The Bonnies will face the winner of the other semi-final match-up between the Xavier Musketeers and and St. Louis Billikens on Sunday, to see who will be crowned Atlantic 10 champion and earn an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament.

Bonnies' swingman, Demitrius Conger, was the player of the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Terrell Vinson led the Minutemen in scoring with 20 points. The Bonnies shot 51 percent from the floor as a team, while holding UMass to 41 percent. Both teams committed 10 turnovers.

The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 PM EST and the game will be televised on CBS.

For more on the Atlantic 10 Tournament, check back to this StoryStream. Meanwhile, SB Nation's college basketball hub will prepare you for the month of March and the madness it brings.

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UMass Vs. St. Bonaventure: Minutemen Look To Continue Run Against Bonnies

1After winning just their second and third Atlantic 10 Tournament games in the past decade, UMass (22-10) will face off against St. Bonaventure (18-11) Saturday at 1 p.m. in the semifinal round in Atlantic City. (TV: CBS Sports Network/Radio: UMass Sports Network)

Both teams came away with close victories on Friday afternoon at Boardwalk Hall, with the (8) Minutemen knocking off top-seeded Temple 77-71, while (4) St. Bonaventure held off (5) St. Joseph's 71-68. Neither program has grabbed an Atlantic 10 Tournament crown in the 15 past years, with UMass winning five straight from 1992-96, while the Bonnies are still looking for their first title, after losing in the title game three times. The Minutemen hold a 3-0 advantage all-time against St. Bonaventure in postseason play.

With neither team in the hunt for at an-large bid, both squads will need an A10 title to earn a trip to the Big Dance. The winner of Saturday's semifinal will play the winner of (2) St. Louis and (3) Xavier in Sunday's Atlantic 10 Championship Game at 1 p.m. UMass holds a 3-0 record against the three remaining teams in the tournament.

First Matchup: UMass 76, St. Bonaventure 67 (Feb. 8, 2012)

UMass used two huge second half runs at home to hold off the Bonnies after entering the half trailing 34-31. The Minutemen began the half on a 14-0 spurt and then used a 17-2 burst to knock the Bonnies out of the game, after they had cut UMass' lead to three with 8:41 to play.

Friday's star Jesse Morgan had a career night for the Minutemen, with a career-high 24 points off of 6-of-7 3-pointers. Backcourt mate Chaz Williams added 17 points and a team-high six rebounds and five assists. While the Bonnies owned the paint, with the edge in rebounds and points in the paint, the Minutemen used their 10-0 advantage on fast break points to pull out the victory.

Senior forward and Atlantic 10 Player of the year Andrew Nicholson led the Bonnies with 24 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 33 minutes. Junior swingman Chris Johnson was the only other St. Bonaventure player in double figures with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes.

Friday Action: Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

(8) UMass 77, (1) #21 Temple 71

UMass upended long-time rival Temple 77-70 behind a huge second half, that saw the Minutemen outscore the Owls 46-35 behind two more big runs.

After struggling to dictate the tempo and pace in the first half, UMass overcame a 36-31 halftime deficit, by opening the second stanza with a 15-0 run to grab a 10 point lead. Even though the Owls managed to grab the lead back, UMass used a 20-10 spurt over the final six minutes to advance to their first semifinal since 2001.

Morgan was the hero again, as he finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and three 3-pointers. Williams had a huge game of his own, as the former Hofstra point guard chipped in 20 points, 10 assists and two rebounds.

The Owls were led by senior guard Khalif Wyatt's 15 points, while three other Temple players finished in double figures. While Temple held a slight edge shooting the ball and on the glass, they couldn't overcome their 22 turnovers, 14 of which came in the second half.

With the win, UMass is almost assured of at least a NIT berth, which would be their first postseason tournament since 2008 when Travis Ford's was still the head coach in Amherst.

(4) St. Bonaventure 71, (5) St. Joseph's 68

In one of the two closest games of the day at Boardwalk Hall, the Bonnies used three free throws in the final two minutes to outlast the Hawks 71-68. Nicholson's free throw with 1:32 to go proved to be the game-winner, as the conference's leading scorer finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds to give St. Bonaventure their first trip to the A10 semifinals since 2000.

Sophomore guard Charlon Koof added a career-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, as the Bonnies connected on 54 percent of their shots on the day and held a 10-rebound advantage (33-23). While St. Bonaventure only managed to force four Hawk turnovers, they managed to force a turnover and two missed shots in the final 1:32 to hold on ot the victory.

Junior guard Carl Jones led the Hawks with 24 points, while sophomores Langston Galloway and Daryus Quarles chipped in with 12 points apiece for head coach Phil Martelli. With the loss, St. Joes will have to settle for a NIT berth, after being just off the NCAA Tournament bubble heading into the weekend.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament 2012: UMass Upsets Temple 77-71, Advances To Semis For First Time Since 2001

UMass' recent history in the Atlantic 10 Tournament has been forgettable at best; the Minutemen had won just 2 of their past 10 games heading into this season and had failed to make a run since 2001. With Derek Kellogg just 1-3 in postseason play and struggling to put a winning team on the floor, the pressure was on Kellogg to win, and win now if he wanted to stay at his alma mater.

After a 21 win season and two thrilling wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, basketball may be officially back in Amherst and Kellogg can focus on worrying about the team's postseason chances, rather thanan his job security.

Sophomore guards Chaz Williams and Jesse Morgan led two second half comebacks as the Minutemen upset top-seeded and nationally ranked Temple 77-71 in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals. Both players finished with 20 or more points in their first trip to Atlantic City and spurred UMass to the first semifinal appearance since 2001, when Bruiser Flint was still the head coach.he

Williams played all 40 minutes and finished with 20 points and 10 assists, to go along with four steals. Morgan, a Philadelphia native, continued his impressive streak against Big Five teams with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. While Morgan only averages 9.8 points per game, the sophomore has been much better against Philadelphia teams. In six games this season against LaSalle, Temple and St. Joseph's, Morgan has posted 86 points, or just over 14 points per game. Morgan poured in 16 of his points in the second half and closed the door on Temple with two free throws with 14 seconds to play.

Senior center Sean Carter, the lone UMass senior, led the Minutemen with eight rebounds and added six points in 37 minutes of play. The win over Temple avenges a 90-88 overtime loss on the Owls floor nine days ago, that sparked the Minutemen's current three-game winning streak.

Senior guard Khalif Wyatt finished with a team-high 15 points, despite being benched to start the game because of tardiness this week. Ramone Moore (14 points), Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (13 points) and Juan Fernandez (12 points) also finished in double-figures but the trio combined for 14 of Temple's 22 turnovers.

After taking 30 fewer trips to the free throw line in the first matchup, UMass managed to put the game away from the free throw line this time around. The Minutemen knocked down 14-of-20 (70 percent) of their attempts, while Temple went 12-of-15 (80 percent).

Temple held the lead for all but 29 seconds of the first half but UMass was able to keep the game within two possessions despite the Owls ability to slow down the pace and neutralize UMass' full court pressure. The Minutemen though were able to quickly erase Temple's 36-31 halftime lead with a huge run.

UMass went on a 17-0 run, bridging the two halves, to grab a 46-36 lead with 15:56 to play. Temple's failed to score over the first 5:07 of the second half, as they turned the ball over seven times in that span. Morgan scored seven of the Minutemen's first 13 points of the half, including the first five to erase Temple's lead.

The Owls would quickly cut into the lead and used a 14-2 spurt of their own to grab the lead back at 61-57 with 8:03 to play. But Williams and Kellogg were not going to be denied. The Hofstra transfer poured in five quick points to take a 62-61 lead and scored eight of his 20 points in the final eight minutes of play.

Wyatt responded with a 3-point play to give Temple the lead (64-62) with 5:26 to play, but that would be the last lead the Owls would hold. Williams found Morgan and Tuesday's hero Javorn Farrell on back-to-back threes off kickouts and the Minutemen would never look back. The Minutemen hit five of six free throws in the final minute to ice the game and keep UMass' NCAA Tournament hopes alive for at least one more day.

The Minutemen will play the winner of the second quarterfinal of the day between (4) St. Bonaventure and (5) St. Joseph's. UMass beat both teams during the regular season in Amherst but the Minutemen also dropped a decision at St. Joes.

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UMass Vs. Temple Halftime Update: Owls Hold 36-31 Halftime Lead Over UMass

Despite playing at a slower pace, having their staple full court press prove ineffective and losing the battwo tele on the boards, UMass finds themselves within two possessions after 20 minutes. While the Owls were able to dictate the tempo of the game and find easy points inside for much of the half, the Minutemen seemed to gain the momentum in the final minutes behind a more aggressive Chaz Williams.

Temple owns a 36-31 halftime advantage behind eight points from senior guard Khalif Wyatt. Wyatt was benched to start the game due to tardiness in practice this week, but hit 2-of-3 shots and knocked down all four of his free throw attempts.

Freshmen forward Maxie Esho and Williams led the Minutemen with seven points apiece for the Minutemen. Sophomore guard Jesse Morgan added five points in his first five minutes before having to go the bench with two fouls.

The two teams were within two possessions for the entire half, with Temple leading or tied for all but 29 seconds.

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Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals: UMass Looks To Cut Temple's Final A10 Tournament Short

Nine days after eight-seeded UMass (21-10, 9-7) and number one Temple (24-6) played an instant overtime classic in Philadelphia, the Minutemen will look to avenge their loss to the Owls and boost their postseason hopes, when the two teams face off in the Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals.

UMass will be making just their second trip to Boardwalk Hall in six years, as the Minutemen have gone through a decade of A10 Tournament woes. But with a new fast-paced system and Chaz Williams leading the Minutemen, they'll look to make their mark in the final tournament to be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Atlantic 10 won't just be saying farewell to the Jersey shore-they'll also be saying goodbye to the Owls. After dominating the league for years, Temple will look to win their record 10th Atlantic 10 Tournament crown, before making their move to the Big East this summer.

UMass Holds Off Duquesne To Reach Atlantic City

After 34 minutes of run-and-gun play, UMass used defense to advance to Alantic City. The Minutemen held Duquesne to just one made field goal over the final six minutes and received 61 points from Chaz Williams, Javorn Farrell and Raphiael Putney to earn just their second Atlantic 10 Tournament win in a decade.

Both teams shot well over 50 percent through the first half and even though they cooled down in the second half, UMass connected on 50.8 percent of their shots and 8-of-17 (47 percent) 3-point attempts to move to 15-1 at home this year. UMass led for most of the game but found themselves in their biggest hole of the night trailing 78-73 with 6:03 to play. Over the final 6:03, the Minutemen went on a 19-5 run behind 17 points from Williams, Farrell and Terrell Vinson.

Farrell was the biggest surprise of the night. After sitting for the full 45 minutes against Temple, the junior forward set a career-high in assists (nine), to go along with his 20 points and seven rebounds. He played a pivotal role in the final run-as Farrell became the point forward, finding Williams on two key layups to secure the victory.

Temple 90, UMass 88 Overtime: Looking Back At Round One

If Umass is able to make a serious run in the Atlantic 10 Tournament or the NCAA/NIT, the Temple game will be used as a clear turning point for this young squad. Four days after losing by a season-high 33 points at Dayton, the Minutemen turned in their best road performance of the year at the Liacouras Center. The Minutemen not only took the #25 Owls to the brink on their home floor, but had two chances to tie Temple in the waning seconds of overtime.

The game was highlighted by a duel between two of the top guards in the league. Williams, a First Team All Conference Member, finished with 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, while senior guard Khalif Wyatt poured in 26 points of his own on 17-of-18 free throw attempts for the Owls. Vinson and Putney added 16 points apiece for the Minutemen, while seniors Michael Eric and Juan Fernandez chipped in with 19 and 18 points respectively for Templs.

UMass held slight advantages or were even with the Owls in every category except for free throw shooting. The Owls knocked down 30-of-40 attempts, while UMass took just 10 trips (6-of-1)) to the free throw line. Temple's huge advantage at the line, neutralized UMass' 12 3-pointers and 15-4 edge in fast break points.

Postseason Bid On The Line

While the Minutemen had a realistic shot at a NCAA Tournament at-large berth at one point, the team's late season slide and bad loss at Rhode Island have left UMass with one option to get to the Big Dance: win the Atlantic 10 Tournament. As good as the Minutemen have been, the idea of three wins in three days with this young group might be a little bit too much to ask, especially considering the strength of the field in Atlantic City.

That doesn't mean that UMass' season will neccessarily end with a loss on Friday. The Minutemen are right in the mix of the NIT pool and while Bracketologists like Joe Lunardi ignore the tournament-there are a few groups that attempt to predict the pool. UMass is currently in the field in every NIT Bracket as a six or seven seed in the 32 team pool, but that position could become a little bit more vicarious as the week goes along. With every team that wins a regular season conference crown eligible for a NIT berth if they fail to get a bid to the Big Dance, the 32 NIT slots are reduced over Championship Week as every number one seed from a conference falls

Already this week number one seeds Drexel, Iona, Bucknell, Middle Tennessee State, Valparaiso, Savannah State, Texas-Arlington all have fallen in their conference tournaments and several other top seeds have difficult roads. With all but one or two of those teams likely to miss out on an NCAA Tournament at-large bid come Sunday, the NIT pool has already been reduced to 24-26 bubble slots, with those teams taking away most of the seven and eight seeds that Umass could have filled.

What does that mean for UMass? Friday's contest becomes a must-win if the Minutemen want to return to the NIT for the first time since 2008, rather than having to settle for a lesser tournament (CBI or CIT).

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UMass Vs. Duquesne Final Score: 9-0 Minutemen Run Helps UMass Stave Off Dukes 92-83

With 6:03 to play in the second half UMass trailed 78-73 and things looked bleak for the host team. Duquesne had just tied their largest lead of the half behind a 5-0 run and held the Minutemen without a field goal for four minutes but Terrell Vinson, Javorn Farrell and Chaz Williams were not about to end their season without one more road trip.

The trio scored 17 of the Minutemen's final 19 points, including a 9-0 run that helped UMass advance to Friday's Quarterfinals in New Jersey with a 92-83 win over the Dukes. All three players finished in double figures as UMass earned just their second Atlantic 10 Tournament victory in the past 10 seasons. Friday the Minutemen will take on top-seeded Temple at Noon in the first Quarterfinal game of the day.

Farrell was the biggest surprise of the day, as the junior forward finished with 20 points, a career-high and game-high nine assists and added seven rebounds for head coach Derek Kellogg. Kellogg described Farrell's perfomance as the best of his career, less than a week after the junior didn't play a single minute in the team's overtime loss at Temple.

Williams led the Minutemen in his first postseason game with the program, as the point guard had a team-high 21 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds and four assists.The third member of the trio had been quiet for most of the night, but Vinson hit a key three to get his UMass teammates going late in the game. Vinson chipped in with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and sophomores Raphiael Putney (20 points) and Jesse Morgan (10 points) joined the trio in double-figures.

Duquesne had their only quintet of double-digit scorers as the Dukes nearly pulled off their second postseason victory in Amherst in four years. Guards Eric Evans and Jerry Jones tied for the Duquesne lead with 16 points apiece, while senior forward B.J. Monteiro had 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds before fouling out with two minutes to play.

UMass and Duquesne were red-hot throughout the game, as UMass shot 50.8 percent (30-of-59) and Duquesne shot 44.3% (31-of-70) and had been even better before a late game dry spell. The two teams combined for 20 3-pointers on the night and neither team really seemed to own the momentum until the final two minutes.

After 34 minutes of back-and-forth unbelievable offense, UMass faced the five-point deficit and needed some kind of spark. That's when Vinson sparked his teammates offensively and more importantly defensively. The Baltimore native hit a key triple to end a four-minute field goal drought, which turned the tide of the game.

After Vinson's 3-pointer, Duquesne knocked down just one field goal in the final six minutes, as the Minutemen went on a 19-5 run to close the game. The Minutemen keyed on the Vinson 3-pointer for a 9-0 run behind a layup from Farrell that was followed by four straight free throws to give UMass the 82-78 lead.

Duquesne would cut the deficit to one on a a Sean Johnson 3-pointer but Williams responded with a layup off a Farell pass and the Minutemen never looked back.

The game wasn't without controversy, as the referees assessed six technical fouls, including one against the UMass fan section for throwing a water bottle onto the floor at Monteiro.

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UMass Vs. Duquesne Halftime Update: Minutemen Lead 51-48 In Fast-Paced Affair

Junior forward Javorn Farrell has been the forgotten man on the end of the UMass bench. While still a part of Derek Kellogg's regular rotation and earning 20 minutes per game, the Woodbridge, Virginia has been under the radar behind offensive stars like Chaz Williams, Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson.

Yet Farrell has been the star so far at the Mullins Center with 13 points and six assists on 5-of-9 shooting to lead UMass to a 51-48 lead. Both teams were red hot through the half, as UMass knocked down 57 percent of their shots, while the Dukes hit 52 percent.

Putney joined Farrell in double-figures for the Minutemen with 12 points and a team-high four rebounds. Williams added five points, four rebounds and three assists for UMass.

Senior forward B.J. Monteiro poured in 11 points and a game-high six rebounds for the Dukes on 5-of-9 shooting, while sophomore guard Jerry Jones was a perfect 4-for-4 en route to 10 points.

After UMass used a 10-3 run to grab a 29-18 lead, the Dukes responded with six straight made field goals to tie the game at 33. The final minutes of the half became testy as the referees assessed three technical fouls and cooled the teams down by going to the monitor for long video replays.

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UMass Vs Duquesne: Minutemen Look To End A10 Tournament Woes Behind New System

Number eight UMass (20-10, 9-7) has advanced to the second round of the Atlantic 10 10 Tournament just twice in the past 10 years, but they hope their new system coupled with Chaz Williams will be enough Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they host ninth-seed Duquesne (16-14, 7-9) at the Mullins Center. (TV: Online Stream/Radio: UMass Sports Network)

After falling in the first round in two of the past three years, Kellogg will look to lead his alma mater back to the Atlantic 10 Championship Game for the first time since 1998. The Minutemen haven't won a title since John Calipari's last season on campus in 1996, when UMass won their fifth and final A10 tournament crown.

Their quarterfinal opponent poses a difficult matchup, as the Dukes earned an 80-60 victory in Pittsburgh back in mid-January. The Dukes four-guard lineup forced 29 Minutemen turnovers and struggled with foul trouble as Duquesne used a late 8-0 run to hand UMass their second conference loss of the year. Sophomore guards Jesse Morgan and Williams especially struggled in the contest as they combined for 15 giveaways against just seven assists.

Morgan led the team with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting and senior center Sean Carter posted a double-double (12 points and 14 rebounds) against the much smaller Duquesne front line. Senior swingman B.J. Monteiro poured in a game-high 23 points for the Dukes, while 6'2" guard Sean Johnson recorded a double-double of his own with 20 points and 10 rebounds. While the Minutemen had the advantage shooting the ball and on the glass, Duquesne came away the victory behind a wide free throw margin, 27-9 attempts advantage, and by holding UMass to just 25 percent from behind the arc.

Key Players

Chaz Williams: The First Team All Atlantic 10 point guard was the only non-senior selected to the team and deserved the honor. He led the conference with 6.4 assists per game and finished in the top 10 in the A10 while leading UMass with 16.2 pppg, 2.3 spg, and a 1.8 assists-to-turnover ratio. Needless to say Williams has been the sparkplug for this team all season long and unfortunately when he doesn't play well the team struggles mightily. Teams that employ four-guard systems such as Duquesne and LaSalle have given Williams huge problems.While the Dukes don't have the size to compete with Carter down low, they have long, athletic guards that are capable of slowing down Williams.

T.J. McConnell: The sophomore point guard from Pittsburgh has not only been fantastic this season but also one of the most consistent players in the league. McConnell has not only started all 30 games this season but leads the team with 5.5 assists per game, 85 steals and the Dukes in all three shooting categories. Add in the fact that he's third on the team in scoring 11.4 ppg and chips in with 4.3 rebounds per game and you've got the glue guy for the Dukes.

Key To The Game

Quick Start: UMass' biggest advantage in this own is their home court advantage and the Minutemen have been able to get off to fast starts at the Mullins Center all year long. Duquesne is an older and more veteran team comparatively and if UMass lets the Dukes hold a late lead in the game, they're not likely to give it up.

Prediction: Duquesne was the only of the four teams in the bottom four that UMass failed to beat this season but the Minutemen have grown up quite a bit since then. If Carter and freshmen center Maxie Esho can own the paint like they're capable of, the Minutemen should overcome these pesky Dukes.

UMass 77, Duquesne 72

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A10 Tournament 2012, UMass Vs. Duquesne: Game Time, Online Stream And More

The UMass Minutemen men's basketball program begins postseason play Tuesday, as they host the Duquesne Dukes in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament (7 p.m. ET). The Minutemen (20-10, 9-7 A10), the No. 8 seed, will try to earn a victory over the Dukes (16-14, 7-9) that would help them reach the second round, where they will face the top-seeded Temple Owls.

The two schools have already met once this season with Duquesne earning a 80-69 victory on Jan. 18.

For UMass basketball fans looking for a link to watch the game, you're in luck, as the Atlantic10.com is streaming the game online for free!

To watch the game, click here. For a full look at the A10 Tournament bracket and schedule, click here.

For more on the A10 Tournament, check back to this StoryStream. Meanwhile, SB Nation's college basketball hub will prepare you for the month of March and the madness it brings.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament 2012: Bracket, Schedule And More

The Atlantic 10 Tournament officially begins Tuesday night, as the first-round will be played at various locations. One of those spots will be the University of Massachusetts where the Minutemen, the No. 8 seed, will host the No. 9 Duquesne Dukes (7 p.m. ET).

The winner of this first-round contest will advance to the second round and play the top-seeded Temple Owls (noon on CBS Sports Network), Friday, March 9, at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The game will be the first of six played in Atlantic City over the course of three days.


A10 Tournament Overview -- UMass Basketball Preview

Here's a look at the bracket and TV schedule for the A10 Tournament bracket:

Tuesday, March 6, First Round (games played at lowest-seeded team):

7 p.m.: (No. 9-seeded) Duquesne Dukes at (8) UMass Minutemen

7 p.m.: (12) Charlotte 49ers at (5) St. Joseph's Hawks

7: p.m.: (10) Richmond Spiders at (7) La Salle Explorers

7: p.m: (11) George Washington Colonials at (6) Dayton Flyers

Friday, March 9, Quarterfinals (on CBS Sports Network, Atlantic City):

Noon: (1) Temple Owls vs. (Winner of No. 9/8 game)

2:30 p.m.: (4) St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. (Winner of No. 12/5 game)

6:30 p.m.: (2) Saint Louis Billikens vs. (Winner of No. 10/7 game)

9 p.m.: (3) Xavier Musketeers vs. (Winner of No. 11/6 game)

Saturday, March 10, Semifinals (on CBS Sports Network):

1 p.m.: Winners of Friday's early games

3:30 p.m.: Winners of Friday's late games

Sunday, March 10, Championship Game (on CBS):

1 p.m.: Winners of Saturday's games

For an official look at the A10 Tournament bracket, click here.

For more on the A10 Tournament, check back to this StoryStream. Meanwhile, SB Nation's college basketball hub will prepare you for the month of March and the madness it brings.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament 2012 Overview: Title Up For Grabs In Wide Open League

12 teams enter, but only one will reign supreme at the end of the week in one of the most competitive mid-major conferences in America. While several teams (Temple and St. Louis) already have all but clinched their spot in the NCAA Tournament, several others have the chance to play their way in with long runs or by being the last team standing on Sunday.

While top-seeded Temple has owned the league with three titles in the past four years and a league-high nine titles, ninth-seeded Dayton won three games last season and gave (3) Dayton a scare in the championship bout before falling. With Brooklyn and the Barclays Center on the horizon next year, what will Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City hold in the host sites sixth and final tournament.

Without further ado, here's a look at each team that made it into the tournament , Rhode Island and Fordham weren't so fortunate, with information on the team's players and one strength that could take them all the way to Sunday. We also have predictions at the bottom of the article for those of you who want to get to straight to the knitty grittty.

(1) Temple Owls (24-6, 13-3): Temple is not only the number one seed with the best resume of any conference team (wins over Duke and Wichita State) but also the most veteran squad. Head coach Fran Dunphy starts three seniors and two juniors and brings a third junior off the bench in his eight-man regular rotation. Guards Ramone Moore (17.8 ppg) and Khalif Wyatt (17.1 ppg) are second and third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring and senior point guard Juan Fernandez is one of the top playmakers and 3-point shooters in the conference. Temple's backcourt is the best in the conference and they could lead the team to a title, the question is will big men Michael Eric and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson carry their share of the load.

(2) St. Louis Bilikens (24-6, 12-4): The Bilikens are one of five Atlantic 10 teams that have yet to win a tournament title but head coach Rick Majerus leads an extremely solid squad that is certainly capable of it this time around. Senior forward Brian Conklin was named to the conference's first team and he certainly had a nice season (13.9 ppg, 5 rbg) but St. Louis is special because of how they play as a team, specifically defense. St. Louis is seventh in the nation in points allowed at 56.6 points per game, while the next closest team is St. Bonaventure at 110th out of 317 teams (64.7). Just like the Owls, St. Louis is red hot, winning 11 of their past 13 games and they own victories over every team still alive but UMass and Temple. If St. Louis can keep up their four assist-to-turnover ratio in tournament play, they should have few problems getting through the quarterfinals, if not all the way to a tournament title.

(3) Xavier Musketeers (19-11, 10-6): Fun fact, Xavier is the last school alphabetically in the nation that plays inDivision I basketball, more important fact: this team had many analysts picking them to reach the Final Four before the season and they still have all that talent on the roster. While an early season brawl against Cincinnati derailed their perfect start and knocked the Musketeers off course, head coach Chris Mack still has one of the most talented players in the nation manning the point in Tu Holloway. Holloway is a third-year senior who was named a Third Team All American last season and finished in the top five in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg) and assists (5.4 apg). Xavier may enter the tournament having won just six of their past 12 but they've made six straight trips to the Big Dance and with a solid core in senior guard Mark Lyons, swingman Dezmine Wells and 7-footer Kenny Frease they have the talent to turn things around.

(4) St. Bonaventure Bonnies (17-11, 10-6): Have you heard of Andrew Nicholson? You should, the senior forward and Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10 is a legit NBA prospect and even has his own website. The conference's leading scorer averaged 17.9 points per game during the regular season and added 8.3 rebounds, good for second best, finished fourth in field goal percentage at 57.9 percent and seventh in blocked shots with 1.6 blocks per game. Add in the fact that the Atlantic 10 is dominated by guards, seven of the 10 players on the top two conference teams were guards, and Nicholson becomes a player that can take over games. Add in the fact that the Bonaventures were the second best team in the Atlantic 10 (64.7 points per game allowed), second best free throw shooting team (76.2 percent) and led the conference in rebounding margin by a wide margin (+5.5) and the Bonnies could be in line for their first title.

(5) Saint Joseph's Hakws (19-12, 9-7): I love this Hawks team. Despite the fact that they have no seniors on the roster and are led by a four sophomores and a junior, this Hawks squad could easily win the title this year and could make it two or three in a row in years to come. Three starters (Carl Jones, Langston Galloway and C.J. AIken) are averaging double figures and sophomore Ronald Roberts JR. won the Sixth Man Award in the conference for his 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and the team is stacked offensively. The Hawks balance the scoring with the most dominant defensive player in the conference in Aiken, who's third in the nation with 3.7 blocks per game. And I haven't even touched on do-everything forward Halil Kanacevic who leads the team in rebounding and assists and you've got a dynamic team that no one can match up with at all five spots.

(6) Dayton Flyers (19-11, 9-7): After last season's huge run the Flyers can't expect to fly under the rader, especially after being the only team to claim wins over all three top seeds in the regular season. After a four-game slide knocked them out of first place, the Flyers finished strong with wins in five of their final seven games including four double-digit wins. Junior point guard Kevin Dillard earned a Second Team selection Monday and is in the same class of elite playmakers as Fernandez, Holloway and UMass sensation Chaz Williams. Dillard finished second in the league in assists per game (5.9), tied for first in assists-to-turnover ratio (2.1) and shot 82.5 percent from the charity stripe. Between Dillard and leading scorer, senior forward, Chris Johnson the Flyers led the conference in free throw shooting (76.9 percent) and fourth in assists (14.6 apg). The Flyers are a talented team but a season-ending injury to third-leading scorer Josh Benson leaves the Flyers with little room for error.

(7) LaSalle Explorers (20-11, 9-7): Even though we're at team number seven in our primer we still haven't had a team who can't legitimately make a run at the title. The Explorers struggled down the stretch with five losses in their last eight games but their four guard lineup can cause huge matchup problems, especially when teams don't have much time to game-plan for them. Senior guard Earl Pettis was deemed the Atlantic 10 Most Improved Player Of Year after leading LaSalle with 15.2 points and 1.9 steals per game while serving as a mentor for the team's younger guards. Sophomore point guard Tyreek Duren in a star in the making and Ramon Galloway and Sam Mills can both fill the stat sheet. LaSalle was the lone team in the conference to finish in the top three in both scoring offense and scoring defense but they'll need freshmen forward Jerrell Wright to come up with a big performance and stay out of foul trouble to even make it out of the first round.

(8) UMass Minutemen (20-10, 9-7): UMass might not be the best team in the conference but they are by far the most interesting to watch. Head coach Derek Kellogg's decision to scrap the team's dribble-drive system in favor of an upbeat tempo offense that focuses on turning turnovers and rebounds into quick points has helped UMass average 76.1 points per game, which is 28th best in the nation. The aforementioned Williams has been just as much as a factor as the new system in the team's turnaround. After earning a CAA-All Rookie Team as a freshmen at Hofstra, the sophomore transfer earned First Team honors on Monday after a historic season (16.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.1 rbg, 2.3 spg). Add in a talented group of athletic swingmen around him in Raphiael Putney, Terrell Vinson and Javorn Farrell along with senior captain Sean Carter and UMass has their best chance to make a run in Kellogg's tenture. The only question is can Umass overcome their recent history of A10 woes (2-10 last 10 years) and their road troubles (6-9 away from home).

(9) Duquesne Dukes (16-14, 7-9): Duquesne is the first of six teams that finished under .500 in conference play but that certainly doesn't mean UMass and potentially Temple can take them lightly. Earlier this season Duquesne defeated UMass their first round opponents by an 80-69 score and the team's veteran backcourt can compete is almost as good as LaSalle's. Senior swingman B.J. Monteiro leads the the Dukes with 15 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and junior Sean Johnson adds 13 points but it was sophomore T.J. McConnell who earned a spot on an all league team. McConnell averages 11.4 points per game (3rd best), 4.3 rebounds (2nd best) and leads the team with 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game. For Duquesne to advance they'll have to continue to be successful in creating turnovers, the Dukes led the conference with a +5.3 turnover margin and forced more than 20 giveaways a game.

(10) Richmond Spiders (16-15, 7-9): The defending champions have a monumentally difficult task if they're going to earn their third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and second straight A10 crown. After a 29-8 season and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen, the 2011-12 edition has struggled to repeat that success after their top three scorers and point guard options graduated. A trio of underclassmen have helped bridge the gap for head coach Chris Mooney with Jackson Tennessee native Kendall Anthony playing so well that he earned the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. I don't think Anthony necessarily had the best numbers out of the A10 bunch but the Spiders certainly deserved at least one nod, outside of All-Defensive Team selection senior big man Darrius Garrett. Outside of Anthony and Garrett, junior guard Darien Brothers leads the team with 14 points per game and sophomore forward Derrick Williams adds 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Richmond, all the nice pieces have knotched just one win against the top four teams this year and lost six of their past 10 in conference.

(11) George Washington Colonials (10-20, 5-11): Head coach Mike Lonergan bolted from Vermont for home and his dream job and I'm sure he's very happy. But while the Catamounts will play for the America East Championship Game Saturday, Lonergan will be sitting on the sidelines watching either that game or an Atlantic 10 semifinal, rather than getting his own chance to coach. Lonergan took over a serious rebuilding process in D.C., as GW hasn't been a factor in the Atlantic 10 since 2007 and certainly didn't make much of a splash this season. While the Colonials consistently kept games close, they failed to beat a top eight team in the conference and they were one of just three teams who lost to 3-13 Fordham. Point guard Tony Taylor has been the best player on the roster for the past three years and will sadly enters the final week of his season campaign with little chance of postseason play. Junior forwards Lasan Kromah and David Pellom are the other two guys to watch, as the Colonials young group of core players are still trying to catch up before the pair departs next May.

(12) Charlotte 49ers (13-16, 5-11): Charlotte returns to the Atlantic 10 tourney after missing out last season but that doesn't mean 49ers fans should be booking their tickets to Atlantic City just yet. Outside of a win against St. Joes early in the year, the 49ers wins came against 10th place Richmond, 11th place George Washington and the only teams not to make the tournament (Rhode Island and Fordham). Junior forward Chris Braswell has been the number one guy all year long with a team-leading 15.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Point guard Pierria Henry is another potential star in the making in the A10 as the Rookie Team Member finished with 7.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Even with Braswell and Henry though, the fact that the team is in the bottom three in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage means they'll be hard pressed to make any noise this week.

Predictions

Tuesday March 6-First Round-All Games at higher seed and start at 7 p.m. EDT

(5) St. Joes Over (12) Charlotte: Charlotte won the first matchup 57-52 on the Hawks home floor behind a 12-2 run to close the game but this is a must-win game for the Hawks who are on the bubble for an at-large bid. If the Hawks can avoid shooting 9.1 percent (2-of-21) from the 3-point line and knock down their season average (6.5 per game), they should be able to get by the 49ers this time.

(6) Dayton Over (11) George Washington: These two teams played Saturday in the regular season finale with the Flyers earning a 75-59 win in Ohio. Somehow I don't see the rematch going much differently, especially with Dayton's impressive play at home (3-game winning streak).

(10) Richmond Over (7) LaSalle: LaSalle may have won the first matchup in Richmond (78-76) but the two teams styles are so similar with four-guard lineups that it could come down to the matchup in the paint. The Spiders held a sizeable advantage down low the first time, when they grabbed 21 more rebounds (45-24) and recorded eight blocks.

(8) UMass Over (9) Duquesne: While LaSalle and Richmond will be fascinating because of the similar styles, UMass and Duquesne should be even more fun to watch because of the differing styles and lineups. UMass is 14-1 on the year at home and they fans and Kellogg are desperate for a win to ensure the Minutemen get at least an NIT or CBI Invitation.

Friday March 9-Quarterfinals in Atlantic City

(1) Temple Over (9) UMass-Noon: UMass took the Owls to the brink last week in Philadelphia in their best road game, if not overall performance, of the season but Temple is too good the second time around. If UMass had any of the other teams who received byes in the second round I'd like their chances.

(2) St. Louis Over (10) Richmond-(2:30): St. Louis' defense put the clamps down on Richmond in a 64-50 win earlier this season and they'll do the same Friday, ending any hopes of a repeat champion.

(6) Dayton Over (3) Xavier-(6:30): Xavier easily could win the whole tournament and need at least one win to make the NCAA Tournament but they just haven't been able to play consistent basketball ever since the December brawl. Dayton creamed the Musketeers earlier this year and took Xavier to overtime on the road in the second matchup-the Flyers will be playing for revenge and their own at-large hopes.

(5) St. Joseph's Over (4) St. Bonaventure- (9:00): This is an upset in seed only, the Hawks are a legit title contender and are the third team who need to play their way off the bubble and into the tournament. It took the Bonnies 50 minutes and two comebacks to put St. Joes away on St. Bonaventure's home court in a 98-93 win. The game will be come down to whether Kanacevic and Aiken can slow down Nicholson enough to keep him from carrying the Bonnies (32 points, 14 rebounds) like he did in the first game.

Saturday March 10-Semifinals in Atlantic City

(1) Temple Over (5) St. Joseph's-(1 p.m.): The two Big Five teams split the city title and a pair of games in the regular season with both teams earning double-digits wins on their home floors. If Temple can play their normal game they'll have the advantage but with game-changers like Aiken, Galloway and Jones on Phil Martelli's side, he has plenty of weapons to make the Owls stumble again. This game will be tight no matter what and could go either way.

(2) St. Louis Over (6) Dayton-(3:30 p.m.): Rick Majerus' squad held Dayton a season low 50 points in their 58-50 win in St. Louis to avenge an earlier 79-72 overtime loss in Ohio. St. Louis' defense is just too a much of a factor for me to overlook, especially after the Bilikens got the wake-up call they needed in a loss to Rhode Island two weeks ago.

Sunday March 11-Finals In Atlantic City

(2) St. Louis Over (1) Temple-(1 p.m.): Yes Temple won (72-67) in St. Louis in January but crazier things have happened and the Bilikens slightly longer rotation (nine deep), coupled with the less grueling path will be enough to put them over the top.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament 2012: UMass Faces Difficult Road To Glory

After finishing off the season with an 88-83 victory over Rhode Island Saturday, the Minutemen learned they would enter the Atlantic 10 Tournament as the eight seed for the second consecutive year. Despite finishing with the best overall record amongst four teams in a four-way tie for fifth in the conference at 9-7, UMass earned the eight spot due to having the worst record against the other four teams in common: ((5) St. Joes 3-1, (6) Dayton 2-1, (7) LaSalle 2-2, UMass 1-4).

The eight seed does come with a home contest in the first round, as UMass will look to avenge a January road loss at Duquesne, when the teams take the floor Tuesday night at the Mullins Center at 7 p.m. EDT. Tuesday's winner will get to make the trip to Atlantic City for the neutral site Quarterfinals of the tournament to take on top-seeded Temple at Noon on Friday.

UMass will be looking to advance to the Quarterfinals for just the second time in 10 years, after being upset by (9) Dayton last season in Amherst and losing to Duquesne in the tournament's first round in 2009. In that loss to the Dukes, UMass used a late 29-11 rally to close the final margin to 91-81, but the Minutmen couldn't overcome 30 combined second half points from Eric Evans and Melquan Bolding. While Bolding transferred to Fairleigh Dickinson after his sophomore year, Evans has stuck around and is one of two seniors on a 16-14 Dukes squad, that finished 7-9 in Atlantic 10 play.

A Rough Decade

Despite having a series of talented and successful young coaches manning the bench in Amherst, the Minutemen have had almost zero success in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Minutemen have won just two conference tournament games in the past 10 years under Steve Lappas (1-4), Travis Ford (0-3) and fourth-year head coach Derek Kellogg (1-3). Even in the two seasons UMass managed to advance out of the first round, the Minutmen were quickly bounced in the quarterfinal round.

Minutemen fans haven't seen a run to the championship game since the beginning of the millenia, when current Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint led UMass to the title game only to lose to Temple in his final season in Amherst.

You have to go back all the way to 1995-96 to find the Minutemen's last Atlantic 10 title. Led by a very young John Calipari, UMass went 35-2 and rolled over Temple 75-61 in the Atlantic 10 Championship Game en route to the program's only Final Four Appearance (although the NCAA later stripped the school of all those NCAA wins). That A10 Championship Title marked the fifth straight year UMass had won the crown and was Calipari's last season in Amherst before heading to the NBA to coach the New Jersey Nets

Those five straight Atlantic 10 titles are the only conference tournament championships UMass has won in their history. UMass does have one NCAA Appearance since 1996. In 1998 the team finished 21-11 and earned an at-large bid to the Big Dance only to lose to St. Louis in the first round.

Tough Road To Title

If UMass can take down Duquesne Tuesday and that's far from a given, they will have to play #25 Temple in the Quarterfinals. The two teams met in Philadelphia Wednesday, with the Owls edging UMass 90-88 in overtime. Despite the close margin, it could be difficult for the Minutemen to repeat the effort, after playing what was by far their best game away from home all season long. Temple is not only considered the class of the conference but one of the top teams in the country, as the Owls have two of the top scorers in the conference and one of the most talented point guards as well.

A win over the Owls would pit UMass against the winner of (4) St. Bonaventure and (5) St. Joes/(12) Charlotte on Saturday. UMass holds wins over all three teams this season but all three wins came at the friendly confines of the Mullins Center, where the Minutemen went 12-1 on the season. St. Bonaventure finished the season red-hot with four wins in their last five games and St. Joes is one of the most talented teams in the entire conference.

Assuming the Minutemen were to make a run all the way to Sunday's Championship game, the Minutemen would likely face either (2) St. Louis or (3) Xavier. Either matchup wouldn't be ideal because of those two team's immense talent but UMass did beat both teams during the regular season, albeit at home.

It will all start Tuesday night in Amherst, as UMass looks to extend their season and potentially earn a spot in the NIT if not the NCAA with a strong showing.

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