Monday, January 16, 2012
3-point shot: Balance in the Atlantic 10
By Andy Katz
1. The Atlantic 10 may have its most competitive balance in years from top to bottom. But the problem is that beating each other may end up hurting the league when it comes to tournament selection. The one thing that may occur is some leap-frogging. Temple has one of the best wins in taking down Duke, but is off to a 1-2 start in the league. The beneficiary of the teams beating each other up will be Xavier. The Musketeers still have the most talent, and prior to the free-fall had the best nonconference schedule. I’d be surprised if the winner of the A-10 doesn’t have at least four losses.
2. I have said this before but it is worth repeating: I cannot get over the transformation at San Diego State. I’m not sure I’ve seen a program come from such depths to becoming a consistent national winner in front of a frenzied crowd that simply didn’t exist. The atmosphere at Viejas Arena for a big game screams through the television, and when in person is quite a sight to see. Steve Fisher will be challenged to get quality nonconference games once the Aztecs go to the Big West. The odds of a ranked conference team coming into Viejas will diminish once UNLV and New Mexico are no longer common opponents. But SDSU is attractive enough to command a national schedule now.
3. Villanova and Pitt both lost on the road Saturday at Cincinnati and Marquette, respectively. But both teams played well enough to win in the final few minutes. They are at the bottom of the standings for the first time under Jay Wright and Jamie Dixon, respectively. There is still enough talent in place to fear these two teams in February and March. To think either will be a walk would be foolish. And to dismiss either team from causing some problems in the Big East tournament would also be a mistake. Neither can make the NCAAs as an at-large, but I have a hunch both will be pests going forward.