2013 Tournament Breakdown: Atlantic-10 Conference
March 14-17, Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.) | Bracket
Saint Louis was the regular-season champ, but there are six or seven teams that could realistically win this tournament. Several teams are playing to try to lock up at-larges, so the quarterfinal round could be really entertaining and also really impactful in terms of helping shape the eventual field of 68 come Sunday.
Key Matchup: No. 4 La Salle vs. No. 5 Butler (possible quarterfinal)
La Salle is actually rooting for Butler to win its first-round game, as the Explorers will probably make the NCAAs with a win here. A win over 12-seed Dayton won’t do anything for them. Butler, despite some high-profile work in nonleague play, hasn’t handled the top of the A-10 well in its debut season. A win here would give the Bulldogs (assumedly) a third crack at Saint Louis this season. The Billikens swept the season series.
Team to Watch: Temple
The Owls are always a force in this event, and they got a draw that plays to their strengths, I think. Both UMass (possible quarterfinal opponent) and VCU thrive on high-tempos, and Temple seems comfortable dictating to teams like that. They didn’t turn the ball over very much against the Rams in the season finale. I think they can make a run to the final and then see what happens after that.
Hottest Storyline: Record number of bids for the league?
The Atlantic-10 is hot on the trail of five NCAA bids, which would equal the league record set twice in the late 1990s. Saint Louis, VCU and Butler are good to go, Temple looks pretty solid, and La Salle definitely can get in, as well. Could UMass make a run and have the league somehow squeeze in six? Or would the Minutemen or a mystery winner end up squeezing La Salle from one of the final spots?
The pick: Temple
This seems to be what the Owls do in this tournament, and they seem to have found a stride down the stretch of the season. They have won their last seven games. Three more, and they’re tourney champs again.