With the 2015-16 season on the horizon, a few members of the Mid Major Madness staff got together to chat about the upcoming season for the Atlantic 10 conference and how things might shake out. The conference has experienced a great deal of success over the last few years and looks like it could have even more this year.
Due to the length of the conversation, the comments have been split up into a series of posts that will be on the site over the next week. Today, we look at the strength of the Atlantic 10 and where the conference ranks nationally.
3. Over the last few seasons, the Atlantic 10 has really performed well on the national scene thanks to teams like Davidson, Dayton, and VCU. Can the conference continue that success and where does it fit into the national picture?
Thomas Beindit: Realistically, it's tough to imagine the A10 extending its recent run and replicating those 2013 and 2014 postseasons where 11 teams made the NCAA Tournament. Not only because several of the conference's programs were in the midst of historic runs like Dayton and VCU, but also because the conference experienced a great deal of movement from programs like Butler, Temple, and Xavier and from coaches like Shaka Smart. Having said that, I still believe the A10 is set to be the class of the mid-major conferences going forward and perhaps even outperform some of the Power 5 conferences like the Pac 12 with a bit of luck.
Andrew Padyk: This season once again appears to have a strong crop of Atlantic 10 teams well within the top six of the conference that have the potential to do well on the national scene. Looking at a few in particular would be Dayton and Davidson, both teams look well within their range to make some waves nationally. Where does the conference fit in the national picture is interesting to think about. The Atlantic 10 is a strong mid major conference that deserves to be a part of the national conversation, considering that we are only two seasons removed from the 2014 NCAA Tournament where six A-10 teams made the tourney and the conference has averaged a range of at least two to three teams making the tournament. It's a conference with deep talent and one to not be taken lightly.
Parks: We're not even talking about the presumptive favorite in the conference and that's Rhode Island. I think that oversight speaks to the question in general. The A10 will always be relative as Big East-lite because there are tremendous, historical programs in this conference. Teams like UMass, St. Louis, St. Joe's, and LaSalle will always be up and down and will constantly have a say in the conference and on the national scene.
Ryan McFarland: I'd agree that Rhode Island is the team to beat in conference. The league had eight teams with RPI's in the top 100 and once again had a team that was eight minutes away from back to back sweet sixteen appearances. The league is a guessing game as it seems every year a new team decides to break out and surprise us all. The real question is whether any of these teams can remain consistently good. VCU is the only team right now that has shown it can be good for more than two to three years in a row. The league will continue to get three teams in the tourney but certainly has a chance at four or five every few years.
Let us know your thoughts on the conference's strength going forward below. The Atlantic 10 roundtable series will continue on Monday with a look at which teams can surprise in the Atlantic 10 this season.