Skip to content

Divergent paths for A-10, Mountain West in NCAA tournament

Mar 23, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Ramon Galloway AP

The Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West came into the 2013 NCAA tournament as the two toughest mid-major conferences in the country, but their showings so far have been far from similar. Through the First Four and Round of 64, the A-10 is a perfect 6-0, while the Mountain West is 2-3.

That 6-0 record for the A-10 is thanks to two wins by La Salle (vs. Boise State, vs. Kansas State), and one each from VCU (vs. Akron), Temple (vs. NC State), Butler (vs. Bucknell), and Saint Louis  (vs. New Mexico State). Meanwhile, the Mountain West has fallen victim to Harvard (New Mexico), UNLV (California), and La Salle (Boise State), with wins by Colorado State (vs. Missouri) and San Diego State (vs. Oklahoma).

But how does a team with a No. 1 RPI ranking have such a tumultuous first two rounds? Much of it comes down to matchups.

Aside from Saint Louis, which was heavily favored to begin with against New Mexico State, the A-10 benefitted from the matchups they drew in their first and second round games. That doesn’t mean teams didn’t gameplan to their strengths or execute or weren’t the better team all together, but it’s worth noting that there were factors to exploit and these teams, to their credit, took advantage.

For example, La Salle’s tough four-guard set was too difficult for Boise State to contain off the dribble and was the reason the Explorers had an 18-point halftime against Kansas State. Khalif Wyatt’s poise and maturity for Temple contrasted with a young and inexperienced NC State backcourt. Butler’s Andrew Smith was physical in containing Bucknell’s best player, Mike Muscala. VCU’s turnover-inducing defense was too much for an Akron team that was without its starting point guard.

By contrast, Harvard’s slow pace caught New Mexico on a 38 percent shooting night. California’s size on the inside was able to counter UNLV’s usual depth advantage in the paint. Boise State couldn’t keep up with the dribble penetration of La Salle’s guards.

And that’s how this NCAA has been playing out and will continue to play out. Colorado State could advance if it continues to rebound the basketball well against Louisville. San Diego State is bound for the Sweet 16 if it can match the intensity of Florida Gulf Coast in transition. Having parity in a tournament creates a need for another factor to decide these games. That factor this year is, simply put, matchups and execution.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. SMU and Gonzaga close to agreement for home-and-home beginning this season

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Mustangs and Bulldogs are looking to meet in a home-and-home series.

  2. Royce Woolridge to transfer from Washington State

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    Royce Woolridge Royce Woolridge

    Washington State loses three players, including a starting guard.

  3. NCAA approves unlimited meals and snacks for Division I student-athletes

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA approved a rule change that will benefit student-athletes.

  4. Branden Dawson to return to Michigan State for senior season

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Tom Izzo returns a key player from last season’s 29-win team.

  5. Arizona loses Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    AP AP

    A pair of starters will leave Arizona following an Elite 8 appearance.

  6. Michigan duo Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III declare for 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Big Ten regular season champion has lost two underclassmen to the NBA draft with the possibility of a third departure as well.

  7. Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee parting ways is good for everyone involved

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee was a marriage that needed to end. On Tuesday, it did.

  8. Report: Cuonzo Martin to become the new head coach at California

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cal dipped into SEC territory to land their new head coach.

  9. Lawyer involved in Miami’s NCAA case accused of ethics violations

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The Miami investigation keeps getting more embarrassing for the NCAA.

  10. Kentucky-signee Karl Towns’ Hoop Summit mixtape (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:19 PM EDT

    2014 McDonald's All American Game Getty Images

    The future Kentucky Wildcat had an impressive showing at the Hoop Summit last weekend.

  11. Report: Domantas Sabonis, Arvydas’ son, leaning towards leaving Spain for Gonzaga

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

    images (1)

    Gonzaga is close to landing the son of another legend of the 80s

  12. Syracuse lands third commitment in 2015 with guard Franklin Howard (VIDEO)

    Apr 14, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Syracuse landed another 2015 pledge on Monday evening when guard Franklin Howard committed to the Orange.

  13. Report: Duke’s Jabari Parker will make 2014 NBA Draft decision on Wednesday

    Apr 14, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker will decide on his future this week.

  14. Report: Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss returning for sophomore season

    Apr 14, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon

    Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss will return for his sophomore season.

  15. Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler commits to Vanderbilt

    Apr 14, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT

    Cornell v Notre Dame Cornell v Notre Dame

    Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler has committed to Vanderbilt.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'