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Jeff Eisenberg

The team that's wreaking havoc on the Atlantic 10

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Rick Majerus has spent the past few weeks campaigning to get Saint Louis out of the Atlantic 10 as a result of the brutal travel schedule.

The way his Billikens are picking off Atlantic 10 bubble teams one by one lately, the rest of the conference might be happy to oblige.

Despite the youngest roster in the nation consisting of eight freshman and four sophomores, Saint Louis (17-8, 8-3) has jelled a year ahead of schedule, winning five in a row to pull within 1 1/2 games of the conference lead. The Billikens' two most recent victims were Dayton and Rhode Island, both at-large hopefuls who couldn't afford to lose to a team most believe isn't even on the NCAA tournament radar.

Coupled with Charlotte's shocking home loss to Duquesne on Wednesday night, and what looked like a potential six-bid Atlantic 10 suddenly is in danger of getting just three. Temple, Xavier and Richmond are still in good shape, but it certainly looks less promising for Dayton, Charlotte and Rhode Island than it did a week or two ago.

And what of Saint Louis? If the Billikens keep surging, could they somehow find their way into the at-large picture? Well, there's no denying it would be a great story, but it's still a major long shot because of the team's No. 92 RPI and sub-par non-conference season.

Among the early losses Saint Louis sustained were to Iowa State, Missouri State and Bowling Green, probably too many questionable defeats to make a serious tournament run. As a result, the Billikens must be content playing the role of spoiler, which means Xavier, Temple and Dayon, you're on notice.

Saint Louis is the worst kind of party guest: It may want out of the Atlantic 10, but it's making everyone else miserable until it leaves.

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