Could Fordham escape the A-10 cellar?

For the past three seasons Fordham has finished last in the Atlantic 10. The Rams won a combined two games during the 2008-09 season through the 2010-11 season. Tom Pecora’s team is certainly improving, as seen by their win at Siena and a tough loss to St. John’s, but there is a long way to go. Still, the Rams might be able to escape the cellar this season because a new team is really struggling this season.

Rhode Island is 1-10 with losses to Brown, Yale, Maine and Boston University. URI’s one win this season came against Hofstra, 85-73 at home. Jim Baron’s team has the opposite problem of Pecora’s. While Fordham can’t play offense, Rhode Island can’t play defense. Teams are lighting up URI in the paint, shooting 57.1% on twos.

Thanks to a whole bunch of offensive rebounds Rhode Island has actually been pretty solid on offense. But they’re ranked 236th by Ken Pomeroy and his numbers project they’ll win just four conference games. A lot of that 236 rating is coming from the fact that in the preseason Pomeroy had URI ranked 181st. Over the past few weeks the Rams’ rating has slowly slipped from a high of 153 after the win over Hofstra down to it’s current mark.

Which leads me to the question, is Fordham better than Rhode Island? We’ll find out on the court on Jan. 18 (at Rose Hill) and Feb. 29 (in Kingston, RI). It appears that home court advantage is going to matter a lot when these two teams play. For now it’s an open question.

Here’s what I do know. Rhode Island’s schedule has been much more difficult. It includes George Mason, Texas, Nebraska, Cleveland State, Virginia Tech and Georgia State (all Top 100 teams according to Pomeroy). Fordham though, at 4-6, does have a better record. (That said, they’ve played just two Top 100 teams and lost to Monmouth, one of the worst teams in Division I.) It’s probably too early to say that Fordham will escape the cellar, but Rhode Island is certainly the best chance.

It’s worth noting: The top of the A-10 is really good this season. In fact it goes about 12 deep. The top eight teams are currently ranked in the Top 100 of Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. It’s going to be a struggle for either Rhode Island or Fordham to win more than 5 or 6 games in conference this season because the rest of the league is so talented.

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