AT THE WATER COOLER: Every year, we search for it. That diamond-in-the-rough team that we dub Cinderella. If we're trying to find a team to become this year's NCAA tournament darling, look no further than the Atlantic 10 Conference, a league that hasn't skipped a beat in spite of losing Xavier and Butler to conference realignment. The A-10 more than likely will send six teams to the Big Dance, based on our latest bracketology projections. That's more than the AAC, ACC, SEC and Big East. Last year La Salle waltzed all the way to the Sweet 16 as a No. 13 seed. The A-10 tournament tips off today, so here's a look at this year's sleepers. Saint Louis (Projected No. 5 seed): The Billikens won the regular-season A-10 title for the second year in a row, although their finish was far from pretty. Still, this is a veteran team that can go far. Led by A-10 Player of the Year Jordair Jett and do-everything forward Dwyane Evans, this team has Elite Eight potential. Virginia Commonwealth (Projected No. 6 seed): VCU knows how to wear the glass slipper, obviously (2011 anyone?), and finished as the runner-up in the A-10 for a second consecutive year. It seems the Rams have been flying under the radar but expect Shaka Smart's signature havoc-wrecking defense to catapult VCU into the Sweet 16. UMass (Projected No. 6 seed): Coach Derek Kellogg has turned this program around and despite a topsy-turvy A-10 schedule, the Minutemen could reach the Elite Eight. Chaz Williams, a 5-9 sparkplug point guard, could turn into a March star. George Washington (Projected No. 8 seed): The Colonials comfortably removed themselves from the bubble and have Sweet 16 potential. They're led by Maurice Creek and Kethan Savage, who is expected to return for the A-10 Tournament. St. Joseph's (Projected No. 10 seed): The Hawks were relatively comfortable in making the NCAAs but two losses to end the regular season mean a win the the A-10 tourney would help their cause. Langston Galloway is arguably the league's best player and has great take-over abilities. Sweet Sixteen is St. Joseph's upside. Dayton (Projected No. 11 seed): The Flyers have the most on the line as a bubble team trying to avoid a résumé blemish since losses to Southern California, Illinois State and Rhode Island already have weakened their credentials. Jordan Sibert leads this explosive team with Sweet 16 potential.
Looking for Cinderella? Try the A-10
USA Today | Mar 12