Can the Atlantic 10 get more teams to March Madness this year? Coaches think so

In 2022-23, the Atlantic 10 didn’t have many options but to wait for the inevitable. March Madness was bound to be a solo pursuit for one of its men’s basketball teams. The league’s fate was sealed due to poor results in nonconference play. VCU secured both the regular season and tournament titles, guaranteeing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. This marked the first time since 2004-05 that a program from the league danced alone, joining George Washington in that unwanted distinction.

“I think obviously a lot of what happens in the A-10 is decided early,” said Dayton coach Anthony Grant. “November, December—people form opinions. Obviously, we have to take care of ourselves.”

The league’s nonconference play yielded a disappointing 109-78 record, ranking them 13th in collective strength according to The Ivy League, WAC, Conference USA, WCC, and American mid-major leagues outperformed the efforts of the Atlantic 10’s 15 teams. Dayton, Saint Louis, and St. Bonaventure each secured a single Quadrant 1 win according to the NET rankings. Overall, the conference ended with a dismal 3-27 record.

Dayton Flyers head coach Anthony Grant yells out instructions against VCU in a game last March.

A decade has passed since the conference’s last triumph. In the 2013-14 season, they secured six NCAA bids, including a pair of No. 5 seeds for Saint Louis and VCU. Five teams finished in the top 50 according to, and Saint Joseph’s earned an automatic berth by winning the conference tournament. Four different schools were also ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at one point.

“With our locations and the history of basketball in this league, we have the potential to get back to the days of multiple bids and multiple teams in the NIT,” said George Washington coach Chris Caputo. “There have been various factors over the past couple of years, but I genuinely believe we can make a comeback.”

George Washington head coach Chris Caputo is seen on the sidelines as his team takes on Washington State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in Honolulu.

Scheduling difficulties and reluctance have played a role in the conference’s struggles. Some teams, like George Washington, didn’t have any Quadrant 1 games last season. VCU, Dayton, and Saint Louis suffered losses to Saint Mary’s, North Carolina State, and Maryland on neutral courts. The Billikens had a dismal record of 1-5 in Quadrant 1 games, including a 95-67 blowout loss to the Terrapins at Mohegan Sun.

Chris Caputo is seen on the sidelines as GW plays Washington State in December 2022.

“As I look around, it seems like we’re not getting as many opportunities in our nonconference schedules as we used to,” said Richmond coach Chris Mooney. “Ultimately, at the end of the year, it comes down to who you played and beat.”

During the 2017-18 season, the Rams secured an at-large selection to make their second consecutive NCAA appearance. URI faced six top-50 opponents according to during the regular season, including three matchups against Davidson. They lost to Nevada, defeated Seton Hall, and lost to Virginia in a two-game stint at Barclays Center. Additionally, they finished with a 1-2 record against the Wildcats, which was enough to comfortably earn a No. 7 seed in the tournament.

“I would say I’m very optimistic,” Grant said. “Considering the history and quality of basketball played in the A-10, I remain hopeful for our future.”

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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Reference

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