A Division 1 men’s basketball coach’s campaign for his team to be included in the NCAA tournament has become nearly as much of a rite of passage as conference tournaments and Selection Sunday. It’s a chance to stand on a soap box and tout the accomplishments of said team or conference as it relates to some of the other teams vying for at-large bids.

Some campaigns are impromptu, while others are triggered by a question. UMass coach Derek Kellogg and VCU’s Shaka Smart both had a chance to campaign locally after the Minutemen beat the Rams, 80-75, Friday in Amherst.

Both coaches were asked about the strength of the Atlantic 10 and if their entertaining, nationally televised game would shed more light on the conference’s level of play.

“I don’t know what (the RPI) is, because I don’t look at it quite frequently; you probably have seven teams in the top 60 of the RPI. That’s probably as good as almost any conference in the country, except for maybe two of them,” Kellogg said. “The proof is really right there in the numbers.

“I know people like to look at them and say that’s not the way it is, if this team did that against that team. . . . That’s what it says. So if you don’t like it, too bad.”

Kellogg’s math was almost perfect for someone not paying attention. UMass (16), Saint Louis (13), VCU (24), George Washington (32), Saint Joseph’s (40), Richmond (46) and Dayton (58) were all inside the top 60 in RPI, according to the NCAA rankings through Feb. 21. The Big 10, Pac-12 and Big 12 all have seven, with the Atlantic 10 leading the ACC, Big East and SEC in terms of teams inside the top 60 in one of the many factors the committee considers when making its picks.

Smart was much more on the offensive in terms of backing his conference, as he went first in his stumping, while Kellogg was reacting to Smart’s comments made just a few minutes before.

“Here’s what it is, and don’t take this the wrong way: There is a lack of sophistication out there right now as it relates to the Atlantic 10,” Smart said. “People look at a league and they look at programs and they look at the history of those programs. They look at some of the games that we’ve had this year. . . . But the reality is that if you look closer and if you compare some of them to some of the teams in our league, I think our league shapes out pretty well.

“I’m not calling anyone individually out there, but I do think games like (Friday) are good for that because people see what UMass has and people see what we have. It’s a pretty exciting game.”