The Saint Louis Billikens still have an Atlantic 10 Tournament matchup against the La Salle Explorers on Friday before they can start worrying about the NCAA tournament, but that hasn't stopped one ESPN scribe from pegging the Billikens as a team that could pull an upset or two in the Big Dance.
Peter Keating released a list of 10 potential "giant killers" for the NCAA tournament, rated on a scale of 0 to 100 based on a statistical model. Here's what Keating had to say about the Billikens:
Saint Louis Billikens (38.4): The Billikens stand astride the widest fault line in college hoops analytics today. Many bracektologists, reflecting the thinking of the NCAA and mainstream media types, just can't see a second-place team in a mid-major conference as elite, and have Saint Louis pegged as something like a 9- or 10-seed, while advanced metrics view Rick Majerus' squad as one of the best teams in the country. (The BPI ranks SLU 12th in the nation.) That mismatch would offer a worthwhile value play even if Saint Louis weren't built like a Killer, but it is. The Billikens are extraordinarily efficient on the defensive end, holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 44.2 percent. They shoot 37.1 percent on 3-pointers, and they turn the ball over on just 17.9 percent of possessions. Crawl, keep the ball, let the bombs fall: That's a tasty recipe for baking upsets.
Their path forward: The Billikens are seeded second (behind Temple) in this week's Atlantic 10 tournament, with a bye in the first round. A win probably makes them an NCAA lock. A win or two plus a loss probably keeps them seeded low enough to be a potential Killer.
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