The Atlantic 10 has had better weeks.
It started with Butler losing to Xavier during Marathon Madness. Actually, ‘losing’ probably isn’t the correct word to use there. Smacked seems more appropriate given the 62-47 final and the fact that the Bulldogs simply did not look very good. There could be an explanation for that, however; Butler wouldn’t be the first team to run into a buzzsaw at the Cintas Center.
And couldn’t we have all just underrated Xavier? I mean, maybe the impressive win was simply a result of the Musketeers playing great as much as it was a symbol of Butler’s downfall. And, since Xavier and Butler are now conference rivals, that could be taken as a positive sign for the league as a whole, right?
Well, that argument doesn’t hold water for VCU. The Rams, who were picked by many to be the league champion in the preseason, lost to Wichita State at home on Tuesday night. The Shockers were one of the more underrated teams in the country last season, but they lost quite a bit to graduation. They aren’t the same team as last year, the one that beat Creighton by two full games for the MVC regular season title, but they still beat VCU in Richmond.
The roughest loss came on Wednesday night. St. Louis, who was, at one time, thought to be the best team in the conference, got drubbed by Santa Clara, losing 74-62 in a game wasn’t nearly that close.
The Billikens are playing without Kwamain Mitchell, their starting point guard and most talented player, and that’s a loss that certainly hurts this group. But whether or not Mitchell is in the lineup doesn’t change the fact that Rick Majerus isn’t coaching this team, and after a less-than-stirring, 17 point win over USC-Upstate in the opener, that looks like it could be a major issue.
So for those scoring at home, three Atlantic 10 favorites lost in the span of about 30 hours. That will be costly for the league as a whole, as it could end up hurting the league’s RPI. A strong non-conference RPI — bolstered by strong non-conference performances by the league as a whole — is the quickest ticket to those last couple of at-large bids.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.