Five key questions in the A-10

Butler's Brad Stevens and VCU's Shaka Smart should elevate the A-10 to new heights this season. Richard Mackson/US Presswire

Atlantic 10 coaches and media believe Butler will finish sixth in the league, but I'll be very surprised if the Bulldogs don't do better than that. But with fellow newcomer Virginia Commonwealth, the A-10 has added depth ... and difficulty. So here are five burning questions for the A-10.

Can Butler win the A-10 title in its first season in the league?

True, the last time you saw coach Brad Stevens' Bulldogs, they couldn't buy a basket. In conference play, Butler was the worst shooting team from the field in the Horizon League. Now Butler has joined the A-10 and, with all due respect to the Horizon, the A-10 is a tougher conference. (The difference in quality between last season's A-10 and Horizon was about the same statistically as the difference between the Big Ten and Missouri Valley.) So why should we think Butler has any shot at finishing first in its new conference?

Math, personnel and the competition are three reasons they should compete for the A-10 title. Last season, Butler made just 26 percent of 3s in conference play, a number so awful that the Bulldogs are virtually certain to beat it this season whether they play in the A-10, Big Ten or NBA. That's important, because perimeter shooting wasn't just Butler's biggest problem in 2011-12 -- it was their only problem. Everything else was on point for a team that competed for its league's title. A few more made 3-pointers, and this team can get a lot better in a hurry.