A-10 season preview, top dogs look to stay on top
The Atlantic 10 has finally jumped on the conference schedule release bandwagon, with their full slate of games available here.
The conference extended their rights deal with CBS Sports for three more years, including 20 televised games. They also extended an ESPN deal through the 2023-2024 season.
Pencil in Valentine’s Day 2021 as an A-10 date night for the two best teams in the conference. VCU and Dayton only meet once in the regular season in what will be a rematch of the conference championship game last season.
VCU returns their two leading scorers in the backcourt, but loses the lockdown talent of conference Defensive Player of the Year Danielle Hammond. There is no need to panic for Beth O’Boyle’s squad, as they secured a replacement in Oklahoma transfer and double-double machine Chloe Bloom.
Dayton is in a similar position after an equally dominant 2019-20. The Flyers lost their leading scorer which means junior and second team A-10 member Erin Whalen will have to take the next step and become a superstar.
Dayton will also have the benefit of a massively deep freshman class. Head coach Shauna Green will have the ability to shape the program for the future during the upcoming season.
Fordham and Saint Louis are the other two programs who could make a splash if they qualify for the NCAA tournament. The two teams meet for the first time this season on January 14th.
Fordham was an impressive 21-11 last season, and despite the loss of Bryson Cavanaugh, the Rams still have plenty of scoring to go around. Head coach Stephanie Gaitley is ready to embrace the challenge that COVID has made the upcoming season and the adversity the team has already experienced with injuries.
Saint Louis returns a backcourt who are efficient on both offense and defense. Ciaja Harbinson and Rachel Kent both averaged over 10 points a game and shut down opposing guards with ease.
While the Atlantic 10 typically only gets one or two teams into March Madness, a COVID-marred season could lead the way toward a great year for the conference.
The first game casualty of the 2020-21 season has been awarded to Oklahoma State, whose season opener against Little Rock was cancelled after three players tested positive. The rest of the Big 12 will begin their season as planned.
Many Big 12 players received recognition for preseason awards. Nine athletes were named to the Naismith list for the nation’s top player, with five of those making it onto the Wade Watch, a more selective initial process that also honors the best collegiate player.
Two athletes even received votes for the preseason AP All-American team. NaLyssa Smith of Baylor and Ashley Jones from Iowa State will headline much of the Big 12 highlight reels with their play this season.