Atlantic 10 Becoming a Top Conference in College Basketball
Most mid-major college basketball conferences have difficulty gaining multiple entries into the NCAA tournament because the level of competition they play aren’t of the highest quality.
For the majority of the conference season, teams in the Atlantic 10 have been beating up on each other all year. Even though Saint Louis won the regular season title and St. Joseph’s won the tournament title, there was no true, clear top team in the conference. As a result, six of its teams (SLU, St. Joe’s, Virginia Commonwealth, George Washington, Massachusetts and Dayton) were granted berths in the national tourney.
Although the A-10 has popular and trending programs, it is indeed a mid-major conference—if not the flagship of them.
These schools haven’t had the trouble with locating and cultivating talent as many of their peers have. Legit basketball talents are choosing these schools and the number of A-10 programs in the Big Dance is evidence of that.
The intriguing thing about this conference is that each of its 2014 NCAA tournament teams have been the top dog in the conference at some point in recent history. Who could forget George Mason’s run a few years back or VCU’s similarly spectacular run even more recent? The A-10 has eight teams with 18 or more wins and its six tourney teams each have more than 23.
Outside of conference play, these teams have held their own against major programs like Virginia, Gonzaga and Mississippi. Each of the conference’s elite have its own identity and that is displayed in the inconsistency of any one team’s dominance.
If you asked six different pundits who was the best team in the conference, there is a high probability you could get six different answers. As we know, parity in college basketball is a good thing, but it starts within conferences.