Once again, the Atlantic 10 finds itself filled with bubble teams, each trying to prove they deserve a bid in the NCAA Tournament. Currently Saint Joseph’s, Saint Bonaventure, and possibly Richmond all remain on the feared bubble. Even teams like Dayton, VCU, and George Washington, who appear like locks right now, could discover themselves on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday with one too many conference losses. In 2014 the conference placed an impressive six teams in the NCAA tournament. One of which was Dayton who went on to make the Elite Eight as an 11 seed. Last year three A10 teams made the tournament, a bit of a drop off, but still a good amount. With the A10 putting multiple teams in the NCAA tournament every year, does the league really cannibalize itself? Yes, and here’s how.
The Atlantic 10 is a unique conference. The league has great basketball tradition and consistently produces solid talent. However, the A10 is not considered a “Power Five” conference. Because of this, the league does not always receive the respect it deserves. Lets face it, the bottom third of the conference is pretty poor to say the least. A loss to one of those teams is garunteed to show up in the bad loss column come March. For all of the A10’s bubble teams, a win against the bottom half of the league really does nothing for them whereas a loss kills. Considering how tough it is to play on the road in the Atlantic 10, every team is almost certain to suffer at least one or two bad losses during conference play each year. This definitely hinders an A10 bubble team’s chance of making it into the tournament. Even losing to the top A10 teams can cause one on the bubble to possibly drop off bracketologist’s boards. Take all this into account and it becomes obvious, the A10 tends to cannibalize itself and possibly costs a couple of their teams a tournament spot every year.
This season, Saint Joes finds themselves on the nerve-racking bubble ride as a surprisingly good, A10 team. They currently sit at 16-3 and should make it in the tournament if they keep this pace up. For the league’s sake, hopefully Dayton, VCU, GW, and Saint Joes can all avoid cannibalization from the A10’s bottom half making it four A10 teams in the NCAA tournament. Ideally, a good team like St. Bonaventure would also join them in the tournament, but since the A10 tends to beat up on itself so much, this most likely will not happen. Lets just hope this conference is able to put as many teams in the NCAA tournament as possible, because once in, we all know any of them are capable of making serious madness come March.