By Jon Rothstein
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1. THE ATLANTIC-10 COULD GET GET FIVE NCAA BIDS IN 2012-13
Of the Atlantic-10’s 14 teams, 10 finished with .500 or better overall records last season, and adding VCU to that mix only enhances the league as a whole. With Temple, St. Joseph’s, UMass, Saint Louis, and La Salle all legitimate contenders to win the conference and Dayton, Xavier, Richmond and now VCU set to be right behind, there’s a legitimate chance five teams from the Atlantic-10 could hear their name called on Selection Sunday next March. The conference got four teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 but seven different programs won over 20 games.
2. VCU WILL RECRUIT MORE IN THE NORTHEAST
The Rams may have gone to a Final Four during their time in the CAA but to win consistently in the Atlantic-10 they’re going to have to have a regular presence in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia — something that’s occurred in the past year but will have to be augmented even more now. Playing regularly against the likes of Fordham, La Salle, Temple, and St. Joseph’s will only help the Rams as they attempt to extend their product up I-95.
3. AN EXISTING RIVALRY GETS BIGGER
Kudos to my buddy Andy Glockner from SI for pointing this out. VCU’s affiliation with the Atlantic-10 means the Rams and crosstown rival Richmond will now be in the same conference and could potentially play twice every season. For those who are familiar with the rivalry, this is a tremendous thing for college basketball and adds even more sizzle to the conference. It also gives the Siegel Center, one of America’s best kept secrets as a home court a chance to host another game. If you haven’t been, make sure you get there next season — the place is beyond electric.
4. THE DEPTH OF THE ATLANTIC-10 INCREASES
Even with Temple set to bolt for the Big East after this season, the Atlantic-10 is set up so every game on any teams schedule is an absolute nuisance. Tom Pecora is quickly upgrading the talent level at Fordham and Danny Hurley’s presence in Rhode Island means it’s only a matter of team before he puts his imprints in the conference. That coupled with the addition of VCU in July and Butler after next year ensures that the league is going to be an absolute bear for years to come.
5. DREXEL IMMEDIATELY BECOMES THE TEAM TO BEAT IN THE CAA
After nearly making the field of 68 in March, Bruiser Flint’s squad will now be a heavy favorite in the CAA to begin next season. With VCU’s departure, the Dragons will be expected to be in the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13. Drexel returns the likely CAA Preseason Player of the Year in lefty point guard Frantz Massenat along with other perimeter weapons in Damion Lee, Chris Fouch, and Derrick Thomas, who was suspended when the Dragons lost in Richmond to VCU in the conference title game. Drexel also brings back two experienced front court players in Dartaye Ruffin and Darryl McCoy and have high hopes for 6-foot-7 red shirt freshman Tavon Allen, who could backup Massenat at point guard.
Your thoughts on VCU joining the Atlantic-10? Sound off below…