Opportunity Knocks for Atlantic-10

T.R. PetersonCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 20:  Guard Derek Glasser #12 (R)  of the Arizona Sun Devilsd passes the ball past guard Ryan Brooks #2 of the Temple Owls during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Arena on March 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

It’s no secret that when it comes to the NCAA tournament, the Atlantic-10 usually feels snubbed come Selection Sunday. Only once this decade (2004) has the A-10 put more than three teams into the big dance.

This year things may change.

The A-10 has put together several quality non-conference wins and features six teams that are credible contenders for the conference crown.

Still, there is no time to rest on this recent success. With several critical non-conference match-ups left before league play, the A-10 is poised to solidify itself come March.

Temple (9-2) has done the most damage with wins over Virginia Tech, Penn St., Seton Hall, and Villanova. Throw in a heartbreaking loss at Georgetown and the Owls are ever deserving of their ranking. However, a win against top-ranked Kansas on Jan. 2 would look very nice in more ways than one.

Dayton (9-2) has quietly put together a nice start to the season and includes a win against Georgia Tech. But the Flyers, who are familiar to the bubble scene in March, could really use a win at New Mexico on New Year’s Day before heading into conference play.

An early season surprise, Charlotte (9-2) was rolling until being upended by Old Dominion. Still, the 49ers have a quality win at Louisville and a couple of huge opportunities against Georgia Tech and Tennessee to start the New Year.

For Richmond (9-3), a win at Wake Forest on New Year’s Eve would put the finishing touches on a nice non-conference resume that includes wins over Mississippi St., Missouri, and Florida.

Similarly, Rhode Island (9-1), with wins over Providence and Boston College, can add a quality win against Oklahoma St. before A-10 play begins.

Xavier (7-4) has had a roller coaster beginning to their season and is in need of some quality wins. The Musketeers will have two crucial games against LSU and at Wake Forest before opening conference play.

The A-10 has also gotten some important wins from its lower echelon teams like St. Louis (S. Illinois), UMass (Memphis), and St. Joseph’s (Boston College) to help boost conference RPI numbers.

The Atlantic-10 is as deep as it has been in several years and the next two weeks will be a great opportunity for several teams, as well as the conference, to help themselves come Selection Sunday.