Were this the 2013-14 season, the Saint Louis University Billikens would hold the No. 1 ranking in the Atlantic 10 tournament that's currently being staged.
Securing top seeds in future A-10 tournies isn't an outrageous concept now that perennial Temple University has announced it's heading back to the Big East Conference, its home until 2004 when the conference kicked them out for playing so poorly on the gridiron. The transition is effective for football immediately and for all other sports beginning in the fall of next year.
The move makes sense for Temple, which has made upgrades to its football program. In many ways, the A-10 (which doesn't compete in football) and the Big East are similar in makeup -- each conference comprises several smallish, private, Roman Catholic basketball-centric schools in Northeast and Rust Belt urban cores. In a basketball sense, the A-10 is the poor man's Big East.
While Temple's migration will increase SLU's chances of winning future A-10 tournaments, the move will lessen the conference's stock value when it comes to NCAA bids. Temple won the A-10 this year with a 13-3 conference record, one better than SLU's second-place 12-4 effort. (The Billikens lost to the Owls on January 11 at Chaifetz Arena.)
The Big East is under major overhaul, with football heavyweights West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh committed to leaving, which will shift even more focus on basketball. To counter the exodus, the conference will add the University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, the University of Central Florida and now Temple as all-sports members. In addition the conference will add Boise State and San Diego State as football-only members. Last season Temple played in the Mid-American Conference.
In tomorrow's A-10 basketball quarterfinal round, Temple squares off against eighth-seed University of Massachusetts, while SLU faces seveth-seed La Salle.
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