No. 17: The A-10 Isn’t Awful Anymore
The Atlantic-10 likes to think of itself as one of the top, if not the top mid-major conference in the country. Five or six years ago, the league was correct in its self-assessment. Nowadays, the A-10 is playing catch-up to the MVC, Colonial, C-USA, and MWC in terms of reputation.
Not many prognosticators have been as hard on the A-10 is recent years as we have. Frankly, we have decided early on each season, and have been proved right in the end, that the league is worthy of just one bid (barring a conference tourney upset like George Washington last season). We haven’t been the only A-10 haters, though. The committee has killed the conference when it comes to seeding the past two years. Last year, a 24-win Xavier team that was the league’s best team all season, earned just an 8 seed, and two years ago, GW went 26-2 (16-0 in the A-10) and couldn’t get out of the 8-9 game.
This year, though, things might be looking up for this beleaguered conference. Xavier is still solid and looks to be the early favorite to win the league again, and the rest of the A-10 may finally be good enough to earn the league a non-regular season champ at-large team. Temple returns the A-10’s top two scorers (Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale), St. Joseph’s returns most of its team and has a strong OOC schedule to boot, Duquesne has a lot of transfer talent now available (remember the name Kojo Mensah), Dayton has most of its squad intact, and Saint Louis welcomes the league’s biggest off-season acquisition in new coach Rick Majerus.
What does all of this mean? It means that our Bold Prediction No. 17 is that the A-10 will finally earn back a little of its reputation this season. Two teams will make it: Xavier as a 6 seed and St. Joseph’s (Lunardi’s boys) as a 12.