A-10 ready to challenge Big East?

Streeter Lecka - Getty Images

Regardless of what you think about the Big East's new football conference, they are surely going to be a bit weaker with the losses of Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Notre Dame when it comes to basketball. Cue the Atlantic 10, who now thing they can be on equal footing with the 'new' Big East. Maybe not so much in terms of talent just yet, mind you. Rather, the A-10 could be as exciting as the Big East:

Some A-10 coaches say, Bring on the Big East.

“This conference race could be maybe more exciting than theirs,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said of the A-10. “I really feel like at the end of the day, you’re going to have to pick your excitement around here.

“It’s a great week in particular, but being in New York City, being on TV with the new [A-10] television deal and having basically the top 12 teams out of our league, it’s going to be a deep tournament.”

First-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry used to play hooky from school as a kid to watch the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, but now he feels the A-10 may be eclipsing the Big East.

“There’s going to be a lot of people that, whether they’re disappointed in the direction that the Big East has gone, I know everybody’s really excited in the direction the Atlantic 10′s going right now,” said Ferry, who led LIU-Brooklyn to back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids.

If you're wondering where this is all coming from, it's the fact that the A-10's tournament in the Barclays will overlap with the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden. As the article states, the two will match up against each other when it comes to drawing attention.

So can the A-10 really compete with the Big East? Come on. The A-10 is a fine little conference and all, but they're simply not on the level of the Big East right now. Not in terms of talent or even in terms of excitement.

The A-10 has added some quality programs recently in Butler (that name still makes me cringe) and Virginia Commonwealth, but they're also losing Temple and Charlotte. More importantly, this one just doesn't pass the sniff test. Here is what the A-10 will look like beginning in 2013: St. Joe's, Saint Louis, VCU, UMass, Butler, La Salle, Dayton, Xavier, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, George Washington, Fordham, Rhode Island, and local product Duquesne.

Now here's the Big East: UConn, Georgetown, Louisville, Villanova, Cincinnati, Marquette, Memphis, St. John's, Temple, Providence, DePaul, South Florida, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Houston, Central Florida, and SMU.

I won't dispute that adding Butler and VCU made the A-10 a bit stronger. But the Big East will still be one of the nation's best conferences when it comes to hoops. You just can't say that about the A-10. And when it comes to excitement, there's just nothing in the A-10 that is as exciting as UConn-Georgetown. Or what Villanova-Temple will be. Or Louisville-Cincinnati.

There's really no comparison.

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