Mid-Majors have garnered more respect in recent years due to their productivity and storybook runs in the NCAA tournament, but is the increased attention on prominent mid-major programs actually a detriment come tournament time?
The Saint Louis Billikens are among the elite bunch of mid-major programs that are perennial contenders in March, but can the senior laden team actually surprise the college basketball world in the big dance? Saint Louis has lost its ability to sneak up on power programs, which has forced the Billikens into an unfamiliar role. However, so far the team has embraced its new identity and currently looks as potent as ever.
While Saint Louis lost its surprise factor, the Billikens continue to power through the rough patches of conference play. The team moved to 11-0 in Atlantic 10 conference play with an 89-85 win over the George Mason Patriots. The Billikens were able to overcome a 34-point performance from George Mason guard Sherrod Wright in rout to the overtime win. Saint Louis was led by the starting five, who all scored in double digits, but Jordair Jett stole the show down the stretch. After a quiet first half, Jett ended the game with 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The win over George Mason moves the Billikens to 24-2 overall and extends the team’s winning streak to 18, but are the Billikens real or fraud? The Billikens’ two losses were to the only top-25 opponents the team has faced, leading many to question the team’s validity. Saint Louis will not be able to sneak in the backdoor this year, so the question now becomes, can Saint Louis kick the door down and attain its dream?
The Billikens’ strongest positive is that the team has five seniors starting, but how far can the starters carry this team down the stretch?
Greg Douglas is a college basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.