Camden, NJ, November 16, 2021: For a long time, the Atlantic 10 (A10) has been viewed as something akin a 6th high major basketball conference… A sort of “high” mid-major league that was a few notches above true mid-major leagues. This perception has been reinforced by the ability, in most years, of the A10 to get multiple at-large bids to the NCAA tournament. Dayton, VCU, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure have been holding the A10 down at the national level. The Philly schools have not.
Locally, the prestige of the A10 has been waning. The departure of the Temple Owls, eight years ago, was a significant blow that had to be absorbed. More recently and more importantly, La Salle and St. Joseph’s have not fielded very competitive teams.
The local CAA programs, on the other hand have done well. Zach Spiker’s Drexel Dragons won the CAA Championship last season and played in the NCAA tournament. This marked the Dragons first time in the dance in 25 years. Martin Ingelsby’s Delaware Blue Hens are the consensus pre-season favorite to win the CAA this year and make a return to the NCAA Tournament.
This is a perfect time for the Philly area CAA/A10 showdown.
Ashley Howard takes his Explorers into the Bob Carpenter Center for a 7:00 pm tip off Wednesday. At exactly the same time, Spiker’s Dragons will travel a couple of miles from 34th and Market to 54th and City Line to face Billy Lange’s Hawks. These CAA/A10 matchups are especially important this season. The CAA programs are no longer feeling the “little Bro” roles they have been relegated to for decades.
The A10 schools are looking to reinforce the notion that their programs are on a “higher level” than the CAA upstarts. I’m not so sure that is the case. Delaware and Drexel can definitely play with La Salle and St. Joseph’s.
These exciting matchups will let us know if the gap between the programs still exists. Or, if as I suspect, these guys are on an equal and level playing field.