The Atlantic 10 has a lot of good teams in it. In fact, half the league (7 teams) are ranked in the top 100 of Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. They range from St. Louis at #13 to St. Bonaventure at #86. This means that the 16-game league schedule will be a particularly grueling gauntlet for most teams. Here’s the thing though, a 16-game league schedule with 14 teams means that someone is going to get some breaks. It just so happens that St. Louis is one of those teams.
The Billikens play the league’s No. 2 team Temple once, at home. Their home-and-home series are with Xavier and Duquesne. Alright, that’s not Fordham and Rhode Island, but it’s certainly not the toughest draw of the bunch either. Compare that to St. Joseph’s – the only top team in the league that failed to go undefeated at least once during the 10,000 sims. The Hawks have to play Temple and Massachusetts twice. Their only break is getting St. Louis in Philadelphia.
All of that comes together for Rick Majerus’ club to take home the league title outright 61.8% of the time. While that’s not Harvard or Iona dominance, it’s a pretty strong indicator that St. Louis is the team to beat, especially because no one else does it much more than 10% of the time.
That parity at the top also causes a lot of ties for first place. 1,940 of the sims (19.4%) ended in ties. There were 1,545 two-way ties, 322 three-way, and 73 more multi-team ties, including two six-team ties and one seven-team tie. That’s the sort of madness that can result when you have a lot of parity at the top of the league and not much to pull it down by.
The anchors on the league standings are Rhode Island and Fordham. The Rams of two different colors have both struggled this season, but neither team is in much danger of going winless. URI finished without a win in conference play just 180 times (1.8%) and Fordham failed to secure a win in 503 (5%) of the sims. Those two teams happen to play a home-and-home against each other, which is perfect for ensuring both squads end up with at least one victory.
On the flip side, going undefeated is tough too. St. Louis did it 426 times, Temple 16 times and no other team more than once. Xavier, La Salle and St. Bonaventure all managed to pull off the feat. With a little luck any of those teams could take home the league title. The schedule might favor the Billikens, but 60% certainly does not presume an overwhelming champion.