At 27-6 overall and 16-2 in conference, it's actually pretty tough not to make the NCAA tournament. Of course, that's what happened to Drexel this year, when its strength of schedule was so bad that it was ultimately relegated to a three seed in the NIT.
Now, following the news that Virginia Commonwealth -- one of the Colonial Athletic Association's best programs and the team that cost Drexel its NCAA tourney berth by defeating the Dragons in the CAA championship game -- is moving to the Atlantic 10, there's no disputing that a weak conference just got even weaker.
But is that necessarily bad for the Drexel Dragons?
If anything, the Dragons benefit in the short term by losing one of their toughest opponents in-conference.
Coach Bruiser Flint has played the tournament selection game both ways, first by trying to schedule tougher tests out-of-conference and then by running roughshod through his own league. Neither got the Dragons to the dance. The damning scenario for Drexel, however, if true, is the idea that stronger opponents simply won't schedule them.
So if Drexel needs to win the CAA to go to the NCAAs, because the conference is too weak to consistently earn an at-large and the Dragons can't come to scheduling agreements with stronger non-conference programs, then losing VCU really isn't so bad. Playing them hasn't done enough to advance Drexel's RPI or SOS to a high-enough standard for the committee, so it shouldn't much matter if those numbers takes yet another hit.
If it's all about winning the CAA tournament for Drexel, then its task just got a little easier than it was. The program is now an even bigger fish in an even smaller pond.
Of course, that's just in the short term, and related to the actual basketball about to be played. Forecasting the broader future of that small pond -- considering George Mason, like VCU, was previously linked to the A-10 and Old Dominion is currently mulling its affiliation -- is a bit more of a dicey proposition, like it is for a number of mid-majors around the nation as conferences continue to cannibalize one another.
But, at the very least, a young Drexel team has a few bright years ahead of it. Maybe they can be the next Colonial league team to make waves in March.