Just when you thought you had a grasp on who was playing in VCU’s new conference, realignment went and added some new teams on us all.
Prior to VCU’s inclusion into the Atlantic 10 conference, the league was set to lose Temple to the “Big East” (their half now called the “American Athletic Conference”) and Charlotte to CUSA. Added to those loses are a Butler program we barely got to know (off to the other half of the Big East, coincidentally still called the “Big East”) joining the Musketeers of Xavier, both of whom fell at the hands of the Rams this season.
Those loses left A-10 commissioner, Bernadette McGlade, once again having to restock the cupboard.
So far, so good.
McGlade added 2006 Final 4 participant, and former VCU CAA rival, George Mason to the league. The Patriots will begin A-10 competition this coming fall. Following the Patriots, McGlade targeted, and just officially landed, the Wildcats of Davidson College. The Wildcats are most known for their 2008 Elite 8 run, led by the brilliance of Steph Curry, but made it to the tournament three times since, most recently this past season, losing 59-58 in a second round thriller against the Golden Eagles of Marquette. Davidson is located in Davidson, NC, just north of Charlotte.
The A-10 will most likely lose another two teams in the near future to the new Big East, with Saint Louis, Dayton, Richmond and your very own VCU Rams being mentioned as possible candidates. In the mean time, the Atlantic 10 conference will look like this:
Even with the losses of Xavier and Butler, that’s a very good basketball conference.
Assuming VCU remains in the league with the potential losses of some combination of Saint Louis, Dayton and Richmond (presumably to the new Big East), the Atlantic 10 would then most likely take the two best available programs within the conference’s footprint (Belmont? Murray State? Sienna?). The pattern (Butler, VCU, George Mason, Davidson) suggests the A-10 will continue to add the best available basketball programs in any further realignment scenario.
The Rams are also very much in the running for a spot in the new Big East, but also a potential target of the other half of that broken league, now under the name of the American Athletic Conference. If that option presents itself, VCU would join a league of mostly large, public research Universities (like VCU), and would give the conference (that includes UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati, Temple, Houston, South Florida, Central Florida, ECU, Tulane, SMU and Tulsa) 12 full time members as Navy joins the league as a football only member.
Regardless of conference affiliation (keep in mind, VCU went to the Final 4 as a CAA member), VCU’s future remains bright under the leadership of head coach Shaka Smart.