The Atlantic 10 was one of the biggest losers in conference realignment. Losing Xavier, Temple and Butler robbed the league of three of its most high-profile and well-respected programs.
The A-10 may not have the stature it once did, but not all is lost at the top of the conference.
Thanks to surprising starts for Dayton and George Washington, the Atlantic 10 has scored early season wins over Gonzaga, New Mexico, Creighton and Virginia. At least five teams will enter conference play with hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
After Florida Gulf Coast reached the Sweet 16 and Wichita State reached the Final Four, teams outside of the college basketball power structure are starting to reach even footing. At least on the court.
Beyond the major surprises in the NCAA Tournament, this is an interesting time for mid-major programs. The Mountain West showed surprising depth last season, a trend that should continue as the league expands. Even though Creighton left the Missouri Valley and Temple, Xavier and Butler left the Atlantic 10, there’s plenty to watch in both leagues.
Even since his first season as a college head coach at UMass, John Calipari has thrived with freshmen. That season in 1988-89, Calipari had a rookie Jim McCoy, who averaged 19.8 points per game.
That freshman and that team didn’t resemble the recruiting empire Calipari built at Memphis and Kentucky where a glut of talented freshmen sign with Cal, win a ton of college games in one year and then go on to be NBA Draft picks.
March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Atlantic 10.