The Atlantic 10 released its conference schedule on Thursday afternoon, which also included some game times and television assignments.
Conference play tips off with six games on January 9, most notably league newcomer Butler taking on Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia.
VCU hosts Dayton in their first league game as an Atlantic 10 member on the same night, and the two games on January 10 should both be good as Saint Louis hosts Massachusetts and Xavier hosts Temple.
With 16 members (Charlotte (Conference USA) and Temple (Big East) leave after this season) this is a big year for the Atlantic 10, which saw eight of its teams reach postseason play.
The 75 televised games will highlight a league coming off of a record eight postseason bids last year. The 2012-13 A-10 features 16 members, including newcomers Butler and VCU, providing new rivalries and further strengthening the A-10 position as the best basketball-centric league in Division I.
The additions allow for new matchups between natural rivals Butler and Saint Louis (Jan. 31, Feb. 22) and VCU and Richmond (Jan. 24, March 6). Long-standing rivalries also highlight the television schedule, including both Dayton-Xavier games, and the Temple-Saint Joseph’s game. In all, 52 of the 68 regular season television matchups are Atlantic 10 Conference games, meaning nearly half of the league’s 128-game schedule will be televised nationally or regionally.
With the addition of Butler and VCU, what’s the NCAA bid ceiling for the conference?
In addition to those two there’s Saint Louis, which Lindy’s Magazine apparently has ranked in its preseason Top 10 (not sure if this was decided before Rick Majerus took his leave of absence, but the Billikens return many of their key contributors from last season).
Saint Joseph’s (they return their entire starting five from last season) and UMass are also capable of having a say in the A-10 race, as are perennial contenders Temple and Xavier.
And with talented players such as Dayton point guard Kevin Dillard and La Salle guards Tyreek Duren and Ramon Galloway, neither the Flyers nor Explorers should be overlooked either.
It’s going to be a wild year in the Atlantic 10, but it’s also going to be a fun one for college basketball fans.