Dec. 14, 2012; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Charlotte 49ers head coach Alan Major walks the bench during the first half against the Miami Hurricanes at the BankUnited Center. Miami won 77-46. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte 49ers basketball: men face A-10 auto bid or bust; have women done enough?

The Atlantic 10 Tournament begins Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and for the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team, the road to the NCAA tournament is clear: They’ll likely need to win the title if they’re going to be dancing in a few weeks.

After a handful of embarrassing losses, the Niners have gone from on the bubble to not even being considered.  It seems like that upset win on February 13 over Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse was ages ago; in fact, since then, Charlotte dropped their next four, barely beat Duquesne in overtime and got past Saint Joseph’s in an ugly affair, clinching on the regular season’s final day.  They’ve picked up a nine seed and a date with Richmond on Thursday.  If they topple the Spiders, they’ll face top-seed Saint Louis in Friday.

Looking back: Richmond
The Niners fell at Richmond, 81-61,  on January 19.  If they’re to avenge the Spiders, they’ll need to defend the three ball.  Richmond went 12-27 from beyond the arc (led by Darien Brothers’ eight bombs).  We’ll do the math for you: that’s 36 points scored from distance for Richmond, three more points than Charlotte’s entire 2nd half output (and six less points than the entire St. Joe’s team as a whole).

Looking back: Saint Louis
This was actually a game–56-51 with 6:20 to play–until the Billikens blew it open en route to a 76-58 victory at Chaifetz Arena on February 16.  The Niners were 50% from the line (9-18) while allowing SLU to go 11-26 from deep.  More importantly, they couldn’t finish; despite a number of second chance opportunities they couldn’t put shots away and convert from the line when it mattered.

Questions for the women’s team
Of course, Dayton lost in the A-10 semifinals today, but deep down, I (and everyone else) would have liked to have seen how the Flyers and Niners squared up against each other.  The Niners didn’t convert on their part of the bargain, but with Dayton’s loss it would have been a moot point anyway if they beat Temple and (subsequently) Fordham to punch their ticket to the championship game.
So how much will the loss to the Owls hurt Charlotte?  Hopefully not much.  If you believe RealTimeRPI’s projections, they currently sit at 57, while Saint Joseph’s climbs to 44 after their upset of Dayton.  Also, if you put a lot of stock into bracketology, ESPN’s Charlie Creme has them as a “Last Four In” right now.  On the “First Four Out” list: Duquesne (37 RPI), meaning that Charlotte win over February 3 may not stand out to the selection committee as much as we thought.
But I have a feeling that Cara Consuegra wanted to dispel any doubts of whether or not her team would be getting in or not.  Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until next Monday to know their fate.
Gut reaction: they’re in; worst case, they’re a very high NIT seed.  What are your thoughts?  Post in the comments below or tweet us.

Tags: Atlantic 10 Atlantic 10 Tournament Charlotte 49ers Charlotte 49ers Men's Basketball March Madness NCAA Tournament

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