A-10 race is officially up for grabs

Forget the ACC, Big East and Big 12.

The most compelling conference race in college basketball lives on the East Coast and is out of the national spotlight.

With No. 17 Temple and Xavier losing on Saturday, Charlotte leads the A-10 standings with an 8-1 record in league play. Four other teams -- Temple, Richmond, Rhode Island and Xavier -- are each one game back in the loss column. Dayton, an impressive 90-65 winner over the Musketeers on Saturday, is two games behind the 49ers in the loss column.

While the 49ers are in the A-10 driver's seat after their less-than-impressive 77-72 victory at Fordham on Saturday, they might have the least impressive NCAA tournament profile of any of the league's contenders. Charlotte took an RPI rating of No. 34 into Saturday's play, and it's only 1-4 against RPI top-25 foes and 3-5 against the top 50.

The 49ers also might have the toughest road left among the A-10's heavyweights. Charlotte still plays four games against the other A-10 contenders, including Wednesday's road trip to Dayton and a trip to Rhode Island on March 3. The 49ers also still play home games against Xavier and Richmond.

Going into Saturday, five A-10 teams were ranked in the top 35 of the RPI standings: No. 10 Rhode Island, No. 17 Temple, No. 21 Xavier, No. 32 Richmond and the aforementioned 49ers.

Dayton started the day at No. 38, but figures to climb quite a bit after routing the Musketeers. Richmond's RPI rating should jump quite a bit, too, after the Spiders blasted Temple 71-54 at home on Saturday.

Stay tuned. The A-10 is going to be a great race until season's end.