We have conference tournaments starting this week, and as of right now there is but a single team in Division I college basketball that has not won a game in its conference:
Yes, the Fordham Rams. They are 0-14 in the Atlantic 10 this season. They were 1-15 last year, with that sole win coming in a 67-65 squeaker at St. Bonaventure on January 28, 2009. Since then — 24 straight conference losses.
To be fair, the Rams weren’t really predicted to improve on last year’s 3-25 (1-15) performance, especially after their best player, sophomore guard Jio Fontan, decided to skip town after five games and head for USC where he’ll be eligible in December 2010. As a freshman in 2008-09, Fontan led the team in scoring (15.3 PPG) and assists (4.7 APG) and was putting up similar numbers this year.
One bright light for Fordham has been the play of freshman Chris Gaston. Averaging 18.0 PPG and leading the team with a 44.9 FG%, he’s won or shared multiple Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Week awards so far this year. That shooting percentage is remarkably good, by the way, since Fordham ranks 344th of 345 D1 teams in that category, shooting 37.7% on the year. And there is further good news; last month the Fordham Board of Trustees voted to increase the men’s basketball budget, raising it from the very depths into the top third when compared to the hoops budgets of the other A-10 schools.
As for the remainder of this season, they have two games left. The first is Wednesday night, their final home game of the season against Xavier. Their last game of the year is a noon tipoff this Friday at Duquesne (the last two teams in the A-10 do not qualify for the post-season tournament). I wouldn’t get excited — the oracle known as KenPom gives Fordham just a 2% and 4% chance, respectively, to win those games. Fordham has never suffered a winless conference season as a member of the Atlantic 10, Patriot League, or MAAC, going back almost 30 years.
Eating a conference doughnut isn’t as rare an occurrence in college basketball as you might think. Last year, DePaul (Big East, 0-18), Air Force (Mountain West, 0-16), and Southeast Missouri (Ohio Valley, 0-18) all pulled it off. Three teams did it in the 2007-08 season: Rice (CUSA, 0-16), Colorado State (Mountain West, 0-16), and Oregon State (Pac-10, 0-18). In fact, there have been only three seasons out of the last 20 in which every team won at least one conference game, and those were the consecutive seasons between 2004-2007. There is some reason for optimism for the future of Fordham basketball, but that statistic will stand, and they’ll be the only winless team in conference play this season unless they can beat the odds and come through in one of their remaining two chances.