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Duquesne Basketball

Loyola-Chicago Joins A-10 for 2022-23 Season, More Moves to Come?

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Tuesday afternoon, the Atlantic 10 Conference announced that Loyola will be the 15th full-fledged conference member beginning in July 2022.

Loyola competes in 13 of the 21 A-10 sports and will be the fourth team in the conference to have reached a men’s basketball final four in the last 25 years.

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“Welcoming Loyola University Chicago was not a difficult decision for the Presidents Council, due to its similarity with our member institutions, including the value Loyola places on conducting successful athletics in harmony with a nationally recognized, broad-based educational profile,” Saint Joseph’s University President  and chair of the A-10 Presidents Council Dr. Mark C. Reed said in a conference-issued press release. “On behalf of the leadership of the Atlantic 10, I welcome Dr. Rooney, Steve Watson and the entire Loyola family into our outstanding conference.”

Loyola’s addition is one Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade explained in the press release, that now the conference has extended its footprint into Chicago, and now is in seven of the top 30 media markets.

Also from a men’s basketball perspective, the conference has routinely earned two or three berths into the NCAA Tournament, which further could have proved enticing, especially in a conference with that sport as its main heartbeat.

Loyola was last season’s Missouri Valley Tournament champion and are 3-0 this season under new coach Drew Valentine.

This change is the latest with conference realignment a hot topic of conversation, as teams try to best position itself for a potential shakeup.

With there now being 15 teams left, that raises the question as to whether another team could join the A-10 ranks, or one could leave.

Even with 15 teams being in conference, perhaps conference play becomes regionalized as five teams could each comprise three different pods, so the need for a 16th team does not necessarily need to be there.

Who could end up in Duquesne’s pod if there was four other teams?

St. Bonaventure would seem likely given it is the shortest drive and the teams already do a home-and-home. Dayton, George Mason and George Washington all are approximately four hours away and Fordham and Saint Louis are among those who are, or have been home-and-homes for Duquesne in the past.

Of course having 16 could create two pods of eight, or four pods of two, but the more tightly wound the pods would be would make scheduling and seeding even more challenging.

Now would could join if there was another addition?

Vermont is not a sexy option and certainly is not a top media market, but has consistency found success under John Becker. As is, it is 95th on KenPom and finds way to win games, that would make it a tough out.

Cleveland State is another intriguing option, that has proximity to many different schools and has a men’s basketball program, that is currently on the rise and the Horizon League routinely comes down to the automatic qualifier as its lone option. Of course you have other options that fall in the same boat such as a Detroit Mercy or Northeastern.

Loyola’s addition holds firm to how seriously the Atlantic 10 takes its basketball and if another program is added to the conference, it is clear it is one with a path that will help each opposing program take strides forward.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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