2013 NCAA Tournament: Atlantic 10 Conference Stand Up, Big 12 Step Beside

By Mike Gillmeister
Peter G. Aiken-USA Today Sports

Who said the Atlantic 10 Conference wasn’t a power conference? Just ask the Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The A-10 teams are now 6-0 after the second round, while the Big 12 stands at 2-3.

With the La Salle Explorers, Butler Bulldogs, Temple Owls, VCU Rams and Saint Louis Billikens are all advancing to the Round of 32, the Kansas Jayhawks and Iowa State Cyclones put the Big 12 at a bit of a disadvantage.

However, that doesn’t mean the A-10 has the best chance of sending a team to the Final Four. The Jayhawks are the top seed in the South Region and the Georgetown Hoyas were sent home by the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, eliminating quite possibly KU’s biggest threat in the region.

The Jayhawks are one of the most complete teams in the tournament and have one of the best big men in center Jeff Withey, which gives Kansas an advantage from the start.

Yet, two A-10 teams that can make the most noise are the Billikens and Explorers. Both squads run multi-guard sets that can confound almost any traditional defense.

Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren run the La Salle offense, while SLU can get buckets from anyone from big man Rob Loe to sixth man Jordair Jett.

I can see the Billikens as at least an Elite Eight team, even if they face the top overall seed Louisville Cardinals — whom I believe are vastly overrated every year. Yet, the Explorers are deploying new scorers every game, making them a serious threat in the wild, wild West Region.

Upsets are part of the tournament every year but this season’s field is cracked open like an egg. Don’t be surprised if any of the top teams fall and be even less surprised if an A-10 squad is on the winning end of that equation. With the Round of 32 starting today, let the games begin.


Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.

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