Sunday, March 12, 2017
Rhode Island: 2016-17 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Champions
The Rhode Island Rams are dancing after beating VCU, 70-63, in a game they never trailed. They take the Atlantic 10 tournament title and the NCAA tournament’s automatic bid that comes with it.
Get to know guard E.C. Matthews as the sentimental star of this team, recovering from a torn ACL last year to have a nice comeback campaign. Hassan Martin is great in the middle as an enforcer, and URI blocked seven VCU shots during the win.
The last time Rhode Island won the A-10 tournament, they did so in dramatic fashion in 1999, when Lamar Odom pulled up with this shot at the buzzer to send URI to the dance.
There’s an argument that URI didn’t necessarily need to win this game to get into the tournament, but it certainly makes for a much more comfortable selection show and a much easier week for the team. Our resident bracketologist, Chris Dobbertean, had the Rams in the First Four, which would mean a play-in game in Dayton before the first round. But auto-bids that don’t get a No. 16 seed earn the right to not be in the First Four.
As far as VCU goes, they’re still a fairly safe bet to make the tourney. Our bracketologist currently projects them as a No. 8 seed.
Rhode Island’s auto-bid might cause some hand-wringing among other bubble teams, though — not that URI cares.