Multiple Bids: 6 Teams That Should Dance From the Atlantic 10 Conference
Atlantic 10 Power
With the recent additions of both VCU and Butler, the Atlantic 10 Conference, as it has in recent years, will once again send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament.
The only question heading into the 2012-13 season is how many will they send?
Following Thursday’s media day, the Atlantic 10 has six potential squads that stick out the most, all of whom should find themselves within the field of 68 come March.
Who are they? Let’s find out.
Led by senior guard Khalif Wyatt, the Owls are looking for their sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2013. Boston University transfer Jake O’Brien, who is eligible immediately, will also contribute, but Temple needs to replace some weapons that they lost from a season ago. Head coach Fran Dunphy has a squad that should once again be in contention for an at-large bid.
St. Joseph's Hawks
The Hawks were tabbed as the preseason favorite at Thursday’s media day and that’s due in large part thanks to the inside presence of C.J. Aiken. Despite a 20-win season a year ago, the Hawks finished tied for fifth in the A-10 standings. Expectations are much higher this year, as St. Joseph’s is looking to dance for the first time since 2008.
One of two newcomers to the conference, college basketball fans across the nation know the ability and late excitement that VCU and head coach Shaka Smart can provide. The Rams feature only three seniors on this year’s roster, but incoming freshmen Jordan Burgess and Melvin Johnson each have the ability to provide instant stability.
It’s been a while since the Minutemen have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Their last appearance came in 1998 in fact, but that could change in 2013. Junior point guard Chaz Williams is a preseason first team all-conference performer and the length, athleticism and talent that surrounds him at UMass will be undeniable this year.
Brad Stevens and the Bulldogs are set to embark on a new challenge in 2012-13. A newcomer to the league, Butler has a talented squad led by Andrew Smith down low and eligible transfer Rotnei Clarke on the perimeter. Khyle Marshall and Kameron Williams should be improved, while incoming freshman Kellen Dunham can provide an instant spark in the team’s back court.
Saint Louis Billikens
Rick Majerus will not coach this season, but the Billikens return a dangerous lineup capable of making some noise in March. Kwamain Mitchell and Mike McCall Jr. are returning in the back court, while a solid balance of youth and newcomers should help Saint Louis remain in contention for the conference crown in 2012-13.