The conference tournaments were finally done and the infamous NCAA Selection Show began at 6 p.m. Sunday evening.
Although VCU lost to Saint Louis just a few hours earlier in the Atlantic 10 title game, they were still a shoo-in to go dancing. Patiently awaiting their name to be called, the Rams finally found their destination – although it’s not the best of scenarios for them.
The five seed VCU will travel to Auburn Hills, Mich. for a Thursday first round matchup against Mid-American Conference champions Akron, who received a 12 seed. Their next matchup, assuming they win, will be against either Michigan or South Dakota State.
“I’m really proud of our guys for the way we stepped into this league and competed both in the regular season and the conference tournament,”Shaka Smart said.
There was talk of the A-10 sending either five or six teams to the big tournament and the number was finally confirmed at the end of the show.
Saint Louis got in as a four seed, the highest from the conference, matching them up against New Mexico State in San Jose, Calif. with a potential next round matchup with either Oklahoma State or Oregon.
Butler received a six seed, which sends them to Lexington, Ky. to face Patriot League champions Bucknell. Marquette or Davidson await them in the next round, should they progress.
Temple, who beat VCU in the final game of the regular season, was awarded a nine seed. NC State awaits them in Dayton, Ohio. If the Owls can get past the Wolfpack, they’ll face either the one seed Indiana or the winner of the 16 seed play-in game between CAA champions JMU and Northeast Conference champions LIU Brooklyn.
The final A-10 team to sneak into the tournament was LaSalle who will have to do what VCU did two years ago and win the play-in game to get into the round of 64. Should they take down Boise State, they’ll take on Kansas State in Kansas City – not the most favorable of outcomes for the Explorers.
Five A-10 teams made it to the big dance. The jump from the CAA to the A-10 hasn’t been the smoothest for the Rams, but they’ve shown the increased level of competition isn’t too much to handle.
“We went from a league that I think this year was the 25th best league in the RPI, to a league that’s in the top six or seven conferences in the country and we finished in the top two.”
On how he thinks the A-10 teams will fare, Smart said he thinks Saint Louis has “all of the ingredients of a team that can make a run in the NCAA tournament.”
“I’ll be pulling for all of the Atlantic 10 teams,” Smart said. “There’s enough of us that are going to make it, so who knows, maybe we’ll get a chance to play each other again if we advance.”