Each week we do something called the Dribble Handoff in which a question is posed and then answered by me, Matt Norlander, Kyle Boone and David Cobb. The most recent edition focused on the biggest surprises of the season to date.
Back in July, we were asked which team from outside of one of the top seven conferences — besides Gonzaga — could be the next to make a Final Four. My answer was Saint Louis. Here's what I wrote:
"The Billikens are returning the top eight scorers from a team that closed on a five-game winning streak - most notably Jordan Goodwin, Javonte Perkins, Hasahn French and Gibson Jimerson, all of whom averaged double-figures in points. And, keep in mind, Jimerson only played 10 games last season because of a broken foot suffered in December. In other words, that five-game winning streak happened despite his absence that forced SLU to play shorthanded, which, on some level, makes it even more impressive. The 6-5 guard is currently healthy and expected to make a big impact. And with Dayton's Obi Toppin off to the NBA, Travis Ford's Billikens are now the obvious favorite in the Atlantic 10 and, yes, talented and experienced enough to maybe, just maybe, march all the way to the Final Four."
So far, so good.
The Billikens are now 6-0 after Thursday's 80-69 victory over NC State that was highlighted by a 32-14 run over the final 11-plus minutes. Saint Louis also owns a win over LSU. So Travis Ford's team is undefeated with two victories over top-45 KenPom schools — specifically victories over the schools picked third in the preseason SEC poll (LSU) and eighth in the preseason ACC poll (NC State). By any measuring stick, that's a nice start to this season and reason enough to consider the Billikens the favorite in the Atlantic 10, which currently has eight schools in the top 85 at KenPom.
Saint Louis is No. 25 in Friday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Billikens' next scheduled game is Sunday at Minnesota. They'll open the A-10 portion of their schedule on Dec. 30 against Duquesne.
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Friday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record features wins over Kansas and West Virginia. The Zags have temporarily suspended basketball activities because of COVID-19 issues.||--||31-6|
|Baylor's perfect record is highlighted by double-digit wins over Illinois and Washington. The Bears have temporarily suspended basketball activities because of COVID-19 issues.||--||23-11|
|Luka Garza finished with 23 points and eight rebounds in Sunday's 106-53 victory over Northern Illinois. The Hawkeyes' perfect record also features double-digit wins over North Carolina and Iowa State.||--||19-14|
|Ochai Agbaji finished with 23 points and five rebounds in Thursday's 58-57 victory at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks' lone loss is a season-opening loss to top-ranked Gonzaga.||--||28-8|
|Gabe Brown made five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points in Sunday's 109-91 victory over Oakland. The Spartans' perfect record also features wins over Duke and Notre Dame.||--||21-13|
|Jaden Springer made six of the eight shots he attempted and finished with 12 points in Tuesday's 79-38 victory over Appalachian State. The Vols' perfect record also features wins over Colorado and Cincinnati.||--||25-11|
|Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists in Wednesday's 85-66 victory over Butler. The Wildcats' 6-1 record also includes wins over Texas and Arizona State.||--||17-17|
|Miles McBride finished with 20 points and five assists in Sunday's 87-71 victory over Richmond. The Mountaineers' lone loss is a single-digit loss to Gonzaga.||--||19-15|
|Virginia's lone loss is a one-point loss to San Francisco. The Cavaliers have temporarily suspended basketball activities because of COVID-19 issues.||--||25-8|
|Houston's perfect record features a double-digit win over Texas Tech. The Cougars have temporarily suspended basketball activities because of COVID-19 issues.||--||33-4|
|Greg Brown finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's 79-63 victory over Sam Houston State. The Longhorns' 6-1 record also included wins over Indiana and North Carolina.||--||29-9|
|The Red Raiders missed 17 of the 23 3-pointers they attempted in Thursday's 58-57 loss to Kansas. Texas Tech's two losses are to Kansas and Houston.||--||16-16|
|Brad Davison finished with 17 points, two rebounds and two assists in Tuesday's 77-63 victory over Loyola Chicago. The Badgers' lone loss is a final-second loss at Marquette.||--||20-15|
|Xavier Pinson finished with 17 points and five assists in Saturday's 81-78 victory over Illinois. Missouri's 5-0 record also includes a win over Oregon.||--||25-10|
|Marcus Zegarowski finished with 20 points and five assists in Thursday's 94-76 victory over St. John's. The Bluejays have scored at least 93 points in four of their seven games.||--||24-13|
|Kofi Cockburn finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday's 92-65 victory over Minnesota. The Illini's two losses are away-from-home losses to Baylor and Missouri.||--||20-13|
|Ron Harper Jr. finished with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists in Monday's 74-60 victory at Maryland. The Scarlet Knights' perfect record also features a win over Syracuse.||--||19-15|
|Matthew Hurt finished with 18 points and five rebounds in Wednesday's 75-65 victory at Notre Dame. The Blue Devils' two losses are both to teams ranked ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||27-9|
|Armando Bacot finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 73-67 victory over North Carolina Central. Both of UNC's losses are to teams ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||20-13|
San Diego St.
|Jordan Schakel finished with 25 points and six rebounds in Thursday's 80-68 victory at Arizona State. The Aztecs' 5-0 record also features a win over UCLA.||--||32-7|
|Scottie Barnes finished with 16 points and six rebounds in Tuesday's 74-61 victory over Georgia Tech. The Seminoles' perfect record also includes wins over Indiana and Florida.||--||9-23|
|Dre Davis finished with 21 points and two assists in Tuesday's 75-54 victory over Western Kentucky. The Cardinals' 4-0 record also features a win over Seton Hall.||--||4-28|
|Hunter Dickinson finished with 20 points and seven rebounds in Sunday's 62-58 victory over Penn State. The Wolverines' perfect record also features wins over Toledo and UCF.||--||18-16|
|The Buckeyes missed 18 of the 24 3-pointers they attempted in Wednesday's 67-60 loss at Purdue. Ohio State's next scheduled game is Saturday against UCLA.||--||16-19|
|Javonte Perkins finished with 20 points and five rebounds in Thursday's 80-69 victory over NC State. The Billikens' perfect record also includes a win over LSU.||--||21-12|
|Javonte Smart finished with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists in Monday's 88-66 victory over Sam Houston State. The Tigers' lone loss is a single-digit loss at Saint Louis.||--||14-19|