Attention all college basketball fans. The NCAA basketball regular season has come to a close for many of the smaller conferences. As a result, several conference tournaments have already tipped off, with more coming each and every day for the next week or so. So get ready, we have a ton of great basketball ahead of us.
One of those smaller conferences that are ready to get the ball rolling on their conference tourney is the Patriot League. The league that is home to the team that took down Duke a few years back (I was there to see Lehigh steal the show) should provide some fun action. Bucknell took the conference by a few games, but behind them we have the likes of Boston, Lehigh and Navy to round out the top four.
Thanks to a change in their schedule from when I wrote down the dates, this one has already tipped off, with two games in the books! The bottom four teams have already gone at it, meaning the next round will take place on Thursday, March 2nd. Things will conclude on March 8th, sending one of these teams dancing. You can check out the seedings and bracket below.[Kenny]
(5) Holy Cross
(7) Loyola Maryland
(8) Army West Point
— Patriot League MBB (@PL_MBB) February 25, 2017
Ok so let’s start with an apology. When I wrote down the dates for this one, I didn’t think the first two games were would be until March 2nd. But those games have already taken place (last night). Army took care of American with ease, winning 74-58. Meanwhile, Loyola Maryland dispatched of Lafayette by the score of 67-64.
So that set’s us up with eight teams, with the first game to touch on being Bucknell against Army. Now while I think Army is better than their seed would indicate, and they will put up a fight against the conference’s top team, they still wind up falling short. Bucknell will simply outshoot them, as they have the edge in shooting percentages across the board. Bucknell wins, 75-70.
Game two we see Navy taking on Holy Cross. Navy is one of those teams who certainly have their flaws, but they also have some solid qualities as well. Their created possessions margin sits at six, which is very impressive. They do not shoot the ball very well, but those extra possessions will be what helps them pull this one off. Final score, 70-60.
On the bottom of the bracket, we see Lehigh taking on Colgate. Not only does Lehigh hold a special place in my heart, thanks to that Duke game mentioned above, but they can flat out shoot the ball. They may be the three seed, but they are certainly a favorite in my eyes. This team can steal the Patriot bid from Bucknell, and they start with a 76-69 win here.
Their second opponent will come via the Boston vs Loyola Maryland game. Believe it or not, this one is actually closer than it should be. Boston is an underwhelming two seed in my eyes. Statistically, they are pretty comparable to the seven seed. So this will be the conference’s first big upset, with Loyola Maryland coming out on top by the score of 69-68.
Next up we see the favorites, Bucknell, take on Navy. Another game that will end up being closer than most would expect. Bucknell does not blow Navy out of the water in terms of statistics. But there is one major difference. That comes in the form of Bucknell’s ability to hit the three-pointer. In a game that will have Bucknell fans on the edge of their seat, they come out on top 68-67.
Next up we have Lehigh and the surprise Loyola Maryland. We have already established how much I like Lehigh in this tournament. So I won’t waste your time. These guys can shoot, and they come away with the 71-67 win here.
So will Bucknell be able to hold off my sleeper team? Oh man is this one going to be a good one. When I look over the numbers, things are pretty even. Lehigh does have a large edge in terms of free throw shooting. That could very well be enough to earn them the win. When I plug the numbers into my formula, it tells me Bucknell by one and a half. But I am sticking to my gut, so give me Lehigh, 73-72.
So what do you think? Can Bucknell seal their bid? Or will someone be able to sneak up and take the bid away from them? Tell us in the comments!