The Atlantic 10 in recent memory has been a consistent multiple bid conference into the men’s basketball NCAA tournament, sending at least 3 teams every year since 2008. However, the conference has not always sent multiple teams.
The A-10’s first year was in 1976-77. The conference sent only one team that year, tournament champion Duquesne. For the next four years the conference was a one bid league, and only sent one team in six of its first ten seasons. In the 32 seasons since, the A-10 has been a multiple bid conference every year besides three.
With the way the conference has performed this year, if the University of Rhode Island was to win the conference tournament as expected, it would again be a one bid conference. This would be the first time since 2005 when conference champion George Washington gained the lone nod. It is apparent that this is unprecedented for a conference that consistently sends multiple teams year in and year out.
In terms of conference winning percentage the A-10 is at .515, its lowest conference winning percentage since the 2004-2005 season when the conference posted a .468 winning percentage. In KenPom rankings, URI is currently the conference leader at 32, with the next closest being Davidson a whopping 35 spots behind at 67. It’s apparent that this is an outlier of a year in terms of conference performance.
In RPI, URI also leads the conference sitting at number nine in the country, with the next closest being St Bonaventure 42 spots behind at 51. St Bonaventure was the presumed Robin to Rhode Island’s Batman this year, but has faltered in conference play. The Bonnies beat a presumed NCAA tournament team in Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome, but have gone 4-4 in conference since with losses to the likes of St Joseph’s who currently stands at 9-11 on the year. The conference has also eaten itself from within. Along with St Bonaventure’s falter, the Richmond Spiders have done their best to be the monster from within. After going 2-10 the spiders have gone 6-3 in conference and beaten teams such as VCU, Duquesne, and Davidson, all in the top tier of the conference this year.
Speaking of the perennial A-10 powerhouse Virginia Commonwealth University, the Rams have made the NCAA tournament for seven straight seasons, and eight of the last nine. However, it appears the Rams will be left out of March unless they win the A-10 tournament. This would be the first time since the 2009-2010 season without VCU in the NCAA tournament. VCU also currently sits outside the top 100 in both KenPom and in RPI, at 125 and 101 respectively. VCU is also lacking in a signature win from their non conference slate, and has only hurt their standing within conference play. They let up 106 points to Dayton in a 27 point thumping, and got beat by 15 at home to Richmond.
Looking towards the future this appears to be an outlier of a year for the A-10. Duquesne is a talented young team that took URI down to the wire inside the Ryan Center this past weekend with a very good coach in Keith Dambrot. Saint Louis and VCU each have an incoming class of freshman for the 2018 season that includes two three star recruits, and are ranked as the second and third best classes in the conference.
URI has also managed to bring in the best class in the conference and the number 27 overall class in the country, which includes 4 star recruit Jermaine Harris, and three star recruits Dana Tate, Brendan Adams, and Tyrese Martin. A down year in the A-10 this year is sure to turn into prosperous future for the conference.