Thursday, January 17, 2008

A-10 Nightmare

For those who don't read the comments on my posts here, the Atlantic Ten has been a constant source of debate. The question has been whether the conference is worthy of the hype that they're on pace for three, or even four bids to the Tournament. I have consistently argued that these teams are going to start racking up losses. The Atlantic Ten is an unfortunate conference to be in because you have to survive against very good opponents (like UMass, Temple and Duqesne) while also taking the RPI hits against bad teams like Lasalle and St. Bonaventure. And God forbid you blow a game to the latter type of team.

So that brings us to the past 24 hours, where Xavier lost at Temple, Dayton lost to Umass, and Rhode Island fell at St. Louis. Xavier, Dayton and Rhode Island all entered this week ranked. This coming Monday, the Atlantic Ten may lose all of their ranked teams.

I've said that the only way the Atlantic Ten will get three or four teams will be if those teams clearly separate themselves from the pack. Basically if they beat each other but then roll through everybody else. This is why Rhode Island's loss at Dayton wasn't a problem, since one of those teams has to lose everytime they get together. And even Dayton's loss to Umass isn't that bad since Umass is a bubble team in their own right. With the win, their RPI jumps up near the Top 20. But Xavier's loss to Temple is a problem. And Rhode Island's loss to a fairly dysfunctional St. Louis team is a real problem.

I think I'm still going to project Xavier and Dayton as the two teams to make the Tournament out of the conference. They have been my two picks the past couple of weeks, and they had "better" losses than Rhode Island did. With Rhode Island now dropping to 1-2 in conference, they might actually no longer be the third pick out of the conference. At the time of writing this post, Rhode Island's RPI hasn't yet updated from tonight's loss. But I would expect it will actually drop below that of the Minutemen.

All in all, this is a mess for the Atlantic Ten. You've got to make it easy for the Selection Committee. If you give them three teams that blew out the rest of the conference, it's easy for the Selection Committee to take those three teams. But if you have a four- or five-team free-for-all, the Selection Committee might throw up their hands and move on to teams that are more clear-cut Tournament teams. It's still early, and it's still possible for three or four teams to separate themselves. But it's got to start soon, because we're less than two months from Selection Sunday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you listen to the College Basketball podcast, today they talk about this subject a little. Essentially, they go around the country and assign at-large bids, and even being generous there are only 30 teams that really stand out, so there are four bids to go around. If, as you theorize, four or five teams all finish around the same, then it might be difficult. BUT, as long as those same teams all do well in the tournament (eg losing to each other only), then I think maybe four teams get in.