The Atlantic 10 sounds like a mid-major, but with five tourney teams and a brand new tourney location in Brooklyn, it might not look like one.
Tournament darlings Butler join a conference that already had a recent Final Four participant in VCU, and although both of those teams should be in the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday, they aren't all the A-10 has to offer. St. Louis enters the tournament as the top seed, with their only loss in their final 13 games coming in overtime against Xavier. A pair of squads in Xavier and La Salle are also trying to secure tourney bids, provided they can do their jobs in Brooklyn.
And with the bottom four teams at home, there's no minnows at the Barclays Center, meaning every game has upset potential.
Here's a look at everything you need to know about the A-10 Tourney:
Who, what, where, when
The Atlantic 10 Tourney, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, March 14-17.
The predictable thing to do in a league with 16 teams would be to have a four-round tourney, much like any of the regionals in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the A-10 opted to eliminate the league's bottom four squads from the postseason tourney, rewarding the top four seeds with an extra day of rest before second-round play. Here's how play unfolds:
Thursday, March 14 (NBC Sports Network
12 p.m.: No. 8 Richmond vs. No. 9 Charlotte
2:30 p.m: No. 5 Butler vs. No. 4 Dayton
6:30 p.m.: No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 St. Joseph's
9 p.m.: No. 6 UMass vs. No. 11 George Washington
Friday, March 15 (Comcast SportsNet)
12 p.m.: No. 1 St. Louis vs. Richmond/Charlotte
2:30 p.m.: No. 4 La Salle vs. Butler/Dayton
6:30 p.m.: No. 2 VCU vs. Xavier/St. Joe's
9 p.m.: No. 3 Temple vs. UMass/George Washington
Saturday, March 16 (CBS Sports Network)
Semifinals, 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 (CB)
Finals, 1 p.m.
St. Louis: Not many teams in the country enter March hotter than the Billikens, who won 12 of their final 13. They don't blow the doors off teams on offense, but are one of the more solid defensive squads in the country, allowing just 88.6 points per 100 possessions. Dwayne Evans' 12.9 points per game is pretty low for a team leader, but he grabs 7.0 boards per game and his defensive prowess makes him Ken Pomeroy's pick for the conference player of the year.
VCU: Havoc! You remember Shaka Smart's club from a trip to the Final Four a few years back, but they're so much more. The Rams live by the turnover, forcing them on 28.7 percent of opposing possessions and getting steals on 17.3 percent of opposing possessions, both tops in college basketball. That's right: almost one in every five times the opponent brings the ball upcourt against VCU, someone on the Rams will end up with the ball before the opposition can attempt a shot. The offense averages 114.8 points per 100 possessions too, No. 14 in the country, thanks to Traveon Graham's 15.7 per game and Juvonte Reddic's 14.5.
Xavier: Nobody really talks about the Musketeers in terms of the tourney, but this team's schedule is chock full of quality wins. They've knocked off every one of the top-five teams in the conference besides VCU -- the win against Butler doesn't get a lot of credit, since it was technically a non-conference game at a preseason tournament -- and also beat Memphis, who went undefeated in the C-USA. Cincinnati native Semaj Christon either leads this team to big wins or ruins them. The freshman led Xavier in scoring with 15.4 points and as well as 4.7 assists, but also has a knack for costly turnovers, recording a rare dirty double-double with 11 points and 10 turnovers against VCU. If Christon's on, they could make a run from the No. 7 seed.
La Salle: The No. 4 seed needs to improve their tournament resume, and not many teams are going to be capable of checking both Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren, who share ballhandling duties out of the backcourt.
Who's probably going dancing, regardless
St. Louis: Their losses aren't great -- Santa Clara, Rhode Island, and Xavier are amongst the six teams that beat St. Louis -- but a season sweep of Butler, wins against VCU and New Mexico, and a 24-6 overall record will have this team dancing.
VCU: The Rams won 12 conference games, beat teams that dominated their respective conferences in Memphis and Belmont, and their only loss against an on-tourney team was in overtime against Richmond.
Butler: They're the No. 5 team here, but the have wins over both Indiana and Gonzaga, both likely No. 1 seeds. Not many teams can boast that. Well, if we're gonna be specific, Illinois can also boast that. Regardless, the strength of those victories likely gets the Bulldogs in, even if they can't win in the first round against Dayton.
Temple: They should be safe, especially considering they have a first-round bye that eliminates the prospect of a bad loss. They've got wins against Syracuse and in the season finale against VCU, but losses to some of the A-10's lesser teams -- St. Bonaventure's, St. Joseph's, and Duquesne, their only win of the conference season -- could hurt the Owls if they lose quickly and some bids are thieved in other conferences.
La Salle: They've beaten Butler and VCU, but a non-con without any great wins and five conference losses isn't great. Again, one win here and they're in, nothing and they're on the brink. It's a tough proposition, considering they'll likely play against Butler in the first round.
Players to watch
Khalif Wyatt, Temple: He's a point guard, sure, but that implies you want him to pass a lot. The 6'4 guard leads the A-10 with 19.9 points per game, and when his team needs it the most, he knows how to get points -- more specifically, he knows how to get to the line. He hit 15 free throws before finishing with 33 points in a win over Syracuse, earned 16 trips to the line en route to 30 points in a win over VCU, and got ten trips to the line -- adding three three-pointers -- in a win over St. Louis.
Rotnei Clarke, Butler: Don't let him get open. Not even for long enough to blink. The Arkansas transfer has never developed a very diverse game, but he's darn good at it. He takes over eight threes a game and hits 41.7 percent of them, good for 16.7 points per game.
Ramon Galloway, La Salle: The 6'3 point guard started his career at South Carolina, but a homecoming to Philly is what he needed. Now a senior, he posted a career high 17.4 points to lead the Explorers, and paired with Tyreek Duren in the backcourt, not many teams can keep up with La Salle.