The title of the top mid-major conference has become almost as contested as the claim of the best major conference. The talent gap between larger and smaller college basketball programs has decreased significantly over the past decade and the competition has improved.
Recently, the line separating mid majors from major powerhouses is becoming increasingly blurry. Even though the elite talent is signing with the “household” programs, there are still highly talented players that are filtered into the lesser-known teams because basketball can be a really difficult sport to scout.
The Atlantic 10 Conference has been taking advantage of the college rank’s ineffective recruiting methods and has been collecting some great talents. The A-10 has a tradition of producing great coaches, but now that exciting athletes are choosing the conference, the fruit of coach-player synergy is blooming.
Last season, seven schools finished with more than 19 wins. Saint Louis won the conference regular season title with a 27-7 record, while Saint Joseph’s won the gauntlet that was the A-10 tournament against Virginia Commonwealth. George Washington was a pleasant surprise last year as the team went 24-9 and finished third in the conference. Even with George Mason and Richmond’s decline, the rest of the A-10 performed superbly.
The A-10 also boasted an impressive non-conference record last year and was one of a few conferences to have more than four 20-win teams. This conference is just a few years of consistent play from being prominent. However, that is the problem with mid-majors — once they get hot, it’s hard to stay that way.