Although it is an uncertainty about next season, the world of college basketball is going on as if next season will happen. That’s the way I am thinking about it as well. We keep going unless they say it is cancelled. Positive thoughts and vibes only!
Next season, the conference is poised to bring back almost all of its experience from a season ago. It will be interesting to see which teams use that experience to get better, and which teams fail to figure it out.
There are a few questions that we all have that will be fun to look for as the season plays out.
What will life be like without Obi Toppin?
Dayton became a top 5 team in the country in large part because they had the player of the year in Obi Toppin. Obi made everyone around him better and made that Dayton team extremely hard to defend. With Toppin off to greener pastures in the NBA, Dayton will look much different without him. There seems to be two sides to the coin: Dayton will still be good due to bringing back Jalen Crutcher, Ibi Watson, and Rodney Chatman, or Dayton will still struggle without Obi. It will be fun to see how this team will look without Obi.
How many at-large bids will the league get?
The Atlantic 10 is poised to be a very strong next season. It might be the strongest its been since the 2013-14 season when a whomping SIX teams made the NCAA tournament (St. Joseph’s, Saint Louis, UMass, George Washington, Dayton, VCU). However, college basketball has changed drastically since then to the point where six bids (five at-large) may never happen again. If anything, it is practical to say that this conference should get its highest number of at-large bids since that 2013-14 season. I really only see two at-large bids, but one more could sneak in there to max out the bids at four. There will be a big fight to get there, so watch to see who builds a good schedule to put themselves in position to make the NCAA Tournament.
Who will make the biggest leap from last year?
Every season in the A-10 seems to reveal one team that most people sleep on but ends up being very impressive. Teams that would qualify for this are UMass, Davidson, George Mason, VCU, and George Washington. None of these teams finished in the top 6 from last year and have a lot of question marks coming into next season. There is some hype out there for how good Saint Louis and Richmond are going to be, but from the list of teams that finished worse than 6th last year, it will be interesting to see who will make the biggest jump.
Which team will be the biggest disappointment?
Each season has that team who is expected to be good but ends up falling off. Last year’s VCU team brought back almost the entire team that won the A-10 conference outright with a 16-2 record in 2019. They were expected to win it again. However, the wheels fell off and the Rams finished 9th in the conference. They were ultimately the league’s biggest disappointment. Who will it be this season? Richmond, Saint Louis, Dayton, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, and UMass are expected to be significantly better, but which team will be the biggest disappointment?
Which head coaches are on the hot seat?
It’s often hard to tell who is actually on the hot seat, but there are a couple of teams whose coaches might start to feel a little warm. We already know Jeff Neubauer is most likely in his last year at Fordham after five long, unsuccessful years at the helm. That’s one for sure. Fordham’s tourney drought goes back to 1992.
Dave Paulsen is another one at George Mason. Mason fans seem to be getting impatient with Paulsen after 5 seasons. He seems to have a plan with good players, but the Patriots have been disappointing even with those good players. Next year might be the year to save his job with two all-conference players on his squad. Paulsen seems like a firm second hot seat. Mason hasn’t made the tourney since 2011.
What about Ashley Howard at La Salle? Howard seems like he has a plan, but recruits are leaving. It doesn’t seem like La Salle is getting that much better under him. The seat is only luke warm right now since this will be Howard’s third year, but projections don’t look great for the program. La Salle has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2013.
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