Scrolling Headlines:

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Minutemen third, Minutewomen finish fifth in Atlantic 10 Championships for UMass track and field -

May 8, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse wins A-10 title for ninth straight season -

May 8, 2017

Dayton takes two from UMass softball in weekend series -

May 8, 2017

Towson stonewalls UMass men’s lacrosse in CAA Championship; Minutemen season ends after 9-4 loss -

May 6, 2017

Zach Coleman to join former coach Derek Kellogg at LIU Brooklyn -

May 5, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse advances to CAA finals courtesy of Dan Muller’s heroics -

May 4, 2017

On campus: The liberal assault on free speech -

May 4, 2017

Atlantic 10 Conference grooming national powerhouses

Last season the Massachusetts men’s soccer team discovered that a 4-2-3 record in conference play won’t win you a ticket to the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

On Friday afternoon, UMass will play host to A-10 foe Charlotte, the first game in their trek to return to the Tourney for the first time since 2008.

The A-10 as a whole has gained in strength this season thanks to teams such as Xavier (6-1-1) and Charlotte (7-2-0). The 49ers enter their battle with the Minutemen as the No. 14 team in the nation, while the Musketeers rank No. 23.

While the A-10 doesn’t have the tradition and national attention of conferences like the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference, UMass coach Sam Koch believes that the conference is better than some of the ranking systems lead us to believe.

“I think our conference is much more difficult than the RPI and rankings [show],” said Koch. “You have the top two teams, Charlotte and Xavier, and they’re in the top 25.”

In fact, the A-10 is one of only six conferences in the nation to have at least two teams ranked in the top 25.

Many A-10 teams benefit from having extreme home field advantages against both conference foes and non-conference opponents.

“Of all the conferences I’ve been in this is the by far the toughest conference when it comes to home-away advantage,” said Koch.

According to Koch, St. Joseph’s, Temple, Duquesne, Xavier, George Washington, and Dayton are all difficult places to play on the road as they always draw raucous crowds.

“It’s a hard league to play in on the road, home field advantage is vital in conference games,” said Koch.

Koch even hypothesized that a certain team undergoes a transformation when they play at home.

“It really affects teams, La Salle is a completely different team at home then La Salle on the road,” said Koch.

The difficulty of playing A-10 opponents on the road caught up to UMass last season during the home stretch.

The Minutemen entered their last two games of the season with a 4-1-2 record. They failed to register a win – which would have guaranteed them a playoff spot – over the final two games with a loss to Charlotte and a tie versus Saint Louis.

Both games were played away from Rudd Field.

This season, Koch wants UMass to assert themselves as a real threat in A-10 play. Only time will tell if this goal can be reached.

“We’ll certainly find out on Friday, I think we’re a lot closer now than we were two weeks ago,” said Koch.

UMass has 9 conference games this season and because the conference features 13 other teams, the Minutemen will not have to play four of the conference teams this season.

Those four teams are Xavier, Temple (4-5-0), Dayton (1-9-0), and La Salle (2-6-1).

UMass is fortunate to miss out on Xavier and a potentially dangerous Temple team, but they also won’t play bottom feeders like Dayton and La Salle.

“If Xavier is the second best team, then that’s an advantage to us because we don’t play Xavier but you’ve got Dayton that’s one of the bottom two teams and we don’t play them either,” said Koch.

With the way Xavier and Dayton have separated themselves from the pack in non-conference play, it’s tough to see them not finishing towards the top of the league.

However, the final four spots are up for grabs and sneaking in to one of those spots certainly isn’t an unrealistic goal for the Minutemen.

“Obviously Xavier and Charlotte have the best non-conference record going into this weekend, so the battle for those last four spots is going to be intense,” said Koch.

Jackson Alexander can be reached at jtalexan@student.umass.edu.

 

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