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Atlantic 10 Non-Conference Grades: Saint Louis Billikens

Saint Louis has been one of the biggest surprises in the A-10 so far this year. With Jordan Goodwin finding a new level and Hasahn French anchoring things down low, SLU stands at 10-2 and is looking like one of the strongest teams in the A-10. Travis Ford has integrated seven newcomers smoothly, and Goodwin has established himself as the best rebounding guard in the country by miles. The 6’3 guard is averaging 15.2 points and 11.2 rebounds and has at least 15 rebounds in 4 of his last 6 games, including 19 against Southern Illinois.

Good Wins

SLU’s best wins of the schedule were Kansas State, Belmont, Boston College, and Tulane. Kansas State was a huge win, as the Billikens knocked off not only a Power 5 team but a team that has recruited St. Louis very well. The K-State win could have a nice little knock-on effect in local recruiting. Belmont is a likely tournament team, and though they often don’t look it, BC is still a Power 5 team. Tulane was a convincing 86-62 thumping that showed what SLU is capable of when all cylinders are firing.

Bad Losses

SLU has not had any bad losses. They dropped a game against Seton Hall when the Pirates were at the height of their powers, coming off a near-upset of Michigan State and fully healthy. Their other loss was a 67-61 road loss to 12th-ranked Auburn, where the Billikens were in the game the entire time and more than held their own against a veteran team that made the Final Four last year and could very well do so again this year.

Conference Outlook

SLU has put itself in a great position to do a lot of damage in conference play. If they take care of business, they have a strong chance at an at-large bid. However, that will mean no bad losses and pulling out some big wins. Given how the Billikens have played so far, anything less than a top-4 finish will likely be something of a disappointment, which is a testament to how this team has exceeded expectations so far.

If freshman Yuri Collins can continue to display otherworldly passing vision while eliminating turnovers, and if Javonte Perkins continues to score like he has in recent games, SLU’s supporting cast should provide ample support for the core duo of Goodwin and French as the two juniors aim to lead SLU to a second straight tournament appearance.

Non-Conference Grade: A

If SLU had beaten Auburn or Seton Hall, I’d give them an A+. However, they’ve taken care of business and done a good job of integrating the newcomers into a team centered around its two junior leaders. Jordan Goodwin has been one of the two best guards in the league in non-conference play (it’s a toss-up between him and Jacob Gilyard I think) and Hasahn French is looking like an all-conference player yet again. SLU needs to carry this momentum into conference play, but for now, the Billikens are in a really good spot.

Jack Godar covers Saint Louis University for A10Talk. He is a St. Louis native who grew up rooting for SLU, but is a graduate of College of the Holy C...