In the pre-season and early-on this year, it was Xavier and then everyone else at least a step below. Saint Louis stepped up as a competitor early on with wins over power conference schools Washington, Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma. Temple was poised to challenge with four starters returning from last year's team and Dayton, the same-Dayton that was thought to be in a rebuilding year has looked strong.
The Musketeers then faltered after a cross-town brawl, Saint Louis lost three of four, Temple suffered injuries to two of their starters, leaving behind an undersized lineup void of rebounding, and the most recent league favorite, Dayton lost to St. Joe's on the road and then handed Rhode Island their first conference win this season. All of this leaves behind a muddle mess in the standings with seven (!) teams within one game of first place.
Last season's also-rans, UMass, LaSalle and St. Bonaventure are captured in a three-way tie atop the ranks of the A-10 at 5-2. The Minutemen's transition offense attack has resurged with diminutive Hofstra transfer, Chaz Williams running the point. Could LaSalle be better off without center Aaric Murray who transferred to West Virginia in the offseason? And Andrew Nicholson is coming alive for the Bonnies, who haven't been relevant this late in the A-10 race in more than a decade.
Our guess is as good as anyone's, but Temple is looking strong again since returning center Michael Eric from a knee injury. Not only have the Owls beaten Duke and Maryland of the ACC, but Saint Louis and LaSalle as well before putting the beat down on rival St. Joe's this weekend. Talent-wise, Xavier is as good as they come, but chemistry-wise, what is going on with this team? Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons need to take control and dominate now, just as they did when the Musketeers rode their win-streak into the top ten teams in the nation.