Reigning Atlantic 10 women's basketball champion Saint Joseph's will now have one extra team to go through, as will men's champion Saint Louis, after conference expanded basketball tournaments to include all schools. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
Following their aggressive expansion in adding Butler and Virginia Commonwealth last season, and then upping the ante with the impending additions of George Mason and Davidson, the Atlantic 10 emerged as a viable rival to the larger and high-major Big East. The A-10 took another step closer to their BCS-level counterpart last night, when commissioner Bernadette McGlade announced that the conference's two basketball tournaments would be expanded to include all of the league's member institutions, a change the Big East implemented in the summer of 2008.
Under the new format, a change from the long-standing exclusion of the tournament field to the top twelve programs, all thirteen A-10 members will now have the opportunity to compete in the postseason, which; on the men's side, will return to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the second of a five-year contract next March. The inclusion of George Mason, which is the first Atlantic 10 replacement for Butler, Xavier, Charlotte and Temple, will likely produce a 12 vs. 13 play-in game for the right to move on to the preliminary round against the No. 5 seed.
The new format also benefits schools such as Fordham and Duquesne, both of whom missed the tournament this past season, as did Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure. Fordham head coach Tom Pecora has been adamant about his desire to play at the Barclays Center more often, both before and after the Rams defeated Princeton last December, and now has his chance in a meaningful game on the postseason stage.
Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for further offseason news from both Fordham University and the Atlantic 10.