Rhode Island out in force for 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship

The end of the 2017-18 regular season did not go so smooth for the University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team. The Rams dropped three of their last five games after winning 16 straight games. However, this has not stopped Rhody fans from making the pilgrimage to the Nation’s Capital for the 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship tournament.

The Rams have made it to Washington D.C. on their quest for another A-10 crown and to punch their ticket to their second straight NCAA tournament appearance. Something the school hasn’t done since the 1998 and 1999 seasons.

With the Rams as the No. 1 overall seed, having won the A-10 regular season title for the first time in school history, Rhody doesn’t play until Friday afternoon. With the late starting date and the school’s spring break starting on Monday, students and fans in Keaney Blue are well represented in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is the third location the A-10 tournament has been held over the last three years. PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh was last year’s sight, and the 2016 tournament was held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The A-10’s will return to Brooklyn next season.

For now it’s Washington D.C. and I must say, this is incredible. I was fortunate to be in Pittsburgh last season to see the Rams take home their first A-10 title in nearly 20 years. That was special. As a student at URI and as an aspiring sports journalist, that was my first conference tournament covering as a media member. Four days I will never forget.

But, there is something about being in D.C. that is excitingly different. As my colleague and one of the many voices of WRIU 90.3 FM Ben Kinch said that as we explored the monuments and destinations on Thursday night, there is something different about Washington D.C., every building seems important. It’s a pretty surreal experience. History, pride and college basketball all in one place. Does it get better than that?

Capital One Arena is the sight of this year’s tournament and I’m sure Rhode Island fans would love to still be playing there come Sunday’s championship game.

It’s a rematch of the 2017 A-10 Championship on slate tomorrow. The first team on Rhody’s radar is Virginia Commonwealth University. The No. 8 seeded VCU Rams edged out the No. 9 Dayton Flyers on Thursday afternoon 77-72. Rhode Island won the last three meetings against VCU including a 81-68 victory in early February of this season.

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This is where the fanbases come back into the equation. Rhode Island has traveled well for this tournament. I have heard from folks who have driven, flown or taken busses or trains. However, VCU’s campus lies just about an hour and 45 minutes south of the arena. Take a team that has made it to seven consecutive NCAA tournaments, add a win in their first game of the conference tournament and throw an easy ride up 95 and you get an arena full of black and gold come tip-off on Friday.

Time for the Rhode Island Rams to come out in full force. The spirit squads have made the trip. The band is here. Add in the growing Rhody Ruckus and you can expect to see just as much Keaney Blue and white in the crowd tomorrow as you see shades of black and gold.

Rhode Island looks to bring home the hardware. Friday is game one of hopefully three for URI. College hoops in the Nation’s Capital. Nothing better.

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