Conference Preview: Patriot League


The Patriot League is one of a handful of conferences that truly rewards regular season play in its conference tournament.  Every game of the postseason event is played on the home court of the higher seeded team, which makes the battles throughout the season a lot more significant.  Nine of the conference’s ten teams should be engaged in tight battles for seeding all season long.  The tenth, Bucknell, looks good enough on paper to not have to worry about any of that, as the Bison have a chance to run away with the regular season crown.  If they do in fact run away with the title, and find a way to pick up one or two key victories during a challenging non-conference schedule that includes the likes of North Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland and St. Joseph’s, do not be surprised to see this team cracking the Top 25 polls by early February.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Bucknell – The Bison have five returning starters, four of whom averaged more than 10 points per game.  Forward Zach Thomas led the team in scoring and was Patriot League Tournament MVP.  Center Nana Foulland was conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.  The question for Bucknell should not be if they will win the league again, but maybe just how far will they go in the Big Dance?
  2. Loyola – Despite losing their second leading scorer, the Greyhounds return almost everyone else from their rotation, giving this team enough depth and experience to win the battle for second place.  Andre Walker, who averaged almost 15 points per game, will lead the way for G.G. Smith’s squad.
  3. Navy – This may be head coach Ed DeChellis’ best team during his time at the Naval Academy, as he returns guard Shawn Anderson outside and forward Tom Lacey down low, giving the Midshipmen a very strong inside-outside pairing.
  4. Army West Point – The Black Knights return four starters from last season, led by guard Jordan Fox, and have sophomore center Matt Wilson ready to move into a starter’s role.  There is a real chance that this team could surprise people.
  5. Lehigh – The Mountain Hawks need to find a way to replace Tim Kempton, a double-double averaging machine who scored over 2000 career points and pulled down over 1000 career rebounds.  Having Jack Lieb back healthy and the scoring that guard Kyle Leufroy should contribute will help, but probably not enough to contend for the league crown.
  6. Boston University – The Terriers lost their top two scorers from last season and will need to find some help in the frontcourt, to go with a solid backcourt, if they want to contend for a spot near the top of the league standings.
  7. Colgate – The Red Raiders will benefit this season from having their entire starting lineup back, led by guard Sean O’Brien and forward Will Rayman.  If they can get some more backcourt help, allowing O’Brien to move off of the point, this team could challenge for an upper division finish.
  8. Lafayette – The Leopards do return four starters, but the one they lost was their star point guard Nick Lindner.  If they cannot find a replacement for him, they may not improve much on last season’s 9-21 record.
  9. Holy Cross – The Crusaders are likely to take a step back this season as they have only one starter from last year’s 15-17 team back.  With Bill Carmody on the bench there is no doubt that they will excel on defense, but finding scoring may be an even bigger problem than normal.
  10. American – The Eagles have a few building blocks in place for success, led by sophomores Sa’eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini, plus top freshman recruit Sam Iorio.  They should develop the depth and experience this season to make a move up next year.
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