WH gives his “2 cents” on this topic…
[b]The A-10 and Multiple Bids[/b]
I see a lot of posts here and on team boards doubting the ability of the A-10 to get 3 or 4 bids. Apparently BCS politicking, a higher quality of so-called midmajors and unspecified shenanigans will keep the A-10 to 2-bid league.
Well, here’s my prediction. If the A-10 continues on its current path, the league absolutely can get 3 or 4 bids. Heck, even five isn’t entirely out of the question yet (though doubtful). So I think some of us are selling ourselves short.
The first thing fans need to understand is that the BCS conferences are NOT getting a higher share of at-large bids, WHEN adjusted for the larger size of BCS conferences.
Last spring, I did wrote a separate post on this. I found that going back 23 years, there is no correlation. Many of the at-large bids that used to go non-BCS teams were going to programs such as Louisville, Cincinnati, Depaul, even programs such as Va Tech, Rutgers and Penn State before they joined BCS conferences.
See that post here:
The A-10 has been getting few bids lately for a very simple reason. We stunk it up in noncon play. While we may have had some NCAA-quality teams by year end, they did not get the benefit of the doubt because our RPI was so low.
A great example was the St. Joe’s team that went 14-2 in conference play the year after losing Nelson and West. The Hawks started out poorly in noncon games, and while they recovered in league play, the A-10 as a whole was not very good. Hence St. Joe’s had to settle for the NIT instead.
Historically, when the A-10 takes care of business in noncon, we get multiple bids. The norm for such years is slightly above 3 bids.
Some think BCS politicking will hurt the A-10, but I don’t buy it and haven’t seen any evidence of it. Besides, when the A-10 is good, that usually means we are winning more games than usual against BCS teams and directly hurting their RPIs. When we look better, they look a bit worse.
Another concern is that there are more good midmajors, so some of the at-large bids will go to them. Maybe, but again, history does not bear that out. When the A-10 performs well, we get the bids we deserve.
Why is that? One major advantage the A-10 has over most non-BCS conferences is that we play a ton of games against BCS teams. And when our league is good, we tend to win quite a few of those games. The result: Lots of high-profile, high-quality wins.
The fact that the major media are on the East Coast doesn’t hurt. Just look at all the attention the A-10 has gotten the past few weeks for what, historically is an above-average but not great year.
By contrast, the Missouri Valley plays fewer noncon games because of an 18-game conference sked, and they play far fewer games against BCS teams. As we all know here, the MVC has boosted its RPI by skedding and beating other good majors.
There’s a big downside to that approach, however. The MVC as a whole tends to lack many “signature” wins over nationally known programs. The lack of these big wins, moreover, has helped to fuel the notion that the MVC is “gaming” the system to boost its RPI. I think that has hurt the MVC several times in the past few years.
Two years ago, for instance, the MVC got four teams in the tourney, but Missouri State and Creighton were left out despite high RPIs. I think Missouri State’s RPI was in the 20s.
When I looked at Missouri State’s sked, however, the school did not have a single notable win over a major BCS program. The only BCS school it played was Arkansas, and MS lost by 3. What’s worse, MS was knocked out in the first round of the MVC tourney.
To my mind, Missouri State did NOT deserve an NCAA bid and I thought its RPI number was a mirage.
That year, Missouri State beat
–Texas A&M Corpus Christi
That’s not going to be the case with the A-10. We play and beat some very well known BCS teams. If programs such as UMass and Dayton continue to play well, a bid will be in the offing.
As I see it now, Xavier and Rhode Island look like virtual locks barring major and surprising stumbles. All these programs have to do in A-10 play is win at leaste 11 games and they don’t have to worry. What X and URI need to avoid are first-round exits in the A-10 tourney or more than one loss to the league bottom dwellers.
At this point, Dayton, UMass and Charlotte still have strong NCAA possibilities, and the Dukes and Hawks aren’t entirely out of the picture.
If Dayton wins out in noncon play, I think the school merely needs to win 10 or 11 league games and perhaps one A-10 tourney game. A win at home over Pitt would be huge, but the Flyers could still get an invite even if they lose that game.
UMass, for its part, has to do no worse than a split with Houston and Vanderbilt and win the rest of its noncon games. Then the Minutemen would merely need 10 or 11 wins in league play, plus an A-10 tourney game, to lock up an invite.
Charlotte has to win at least one game on the road at Hofstra and Tulsa and do no worse than a split with Clemson and Maryland. Winning three of those four would position the Niners well for an invite, so long as the school racked up 11 wins in conference play.
Basically, it boils down to this. Keep noncon losses to three or fewer, win at least 10 conference games and preferably 11, don’t lose more than one game to an A-10 laggard, and don’t get upset in the first round of the A-10 tournament.
We can check at season’s end to see the result. My advice for now is avoid any BCS paranoia. It was just three years ago that we got 4 bids.
The college basketball world hasn’t forgotten about the A-10, as we can see by all the recent press.
Link to A-10 Board thread: The A-10 and Multiple Bids