There are so many times that we focus our attention at the top of conference standings, that we tend to forget about the guys on the bottom. So for today’s edition of the Small Conference Game of the Day, we will be paying attention to a pair of teams battling to avoid finishing in last place in their league — tonight’s game is the last place battle in the Patriot League between Navy and Holy Cross (7:00 PM Eastern in Worcester, Mass).
The former national champion (1947) Holy Cross Crusaders enter tonight’s game 2-6 in conference play and 10-13 overall. Their RPI and KenPom are identical at 230. Navy’s Midshipmen enter at 1-7 in league and 7-17 overall. They have an RPI of 322 and a KenPom of 317. The most notable win either team has actually belongs to Navy who defeated Northeast Conference leader Bryant back on December 10.
Holy Cross has dominated this series, holding a 36-18 all-time advantage, including having won the last five straight games. The Crusaders are led by forward Dave Dudzinski who is averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. They also have sophomore point guard Justin Burrell who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year last season. Navy, on the other hand, is led by youth, with freshman Tilman Dunbar and sophomores Worth Smith and Brandon Venturini leading the way. Of course, ex-Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis is on the sidelines in his second season at Annapolis as he continues to attempt to rebuild the program.
A Holy Cross win tonight will clearly put the Middies solidly in the Patriot League basement and on their way to an 8 seed in the conference tournament. However, if DeChellis’ young team can score the upset, the two teams will be tied for seventh place and could spend the rest of the season battling things out at the bottom of the Patriot League.