Patriot League Power Rankings Dec. 23: BU Making Presence Known in First Year

Mo Watson and BU have come into the Patriot League with a ton of talent. - David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Terriers got a big win over Maryland over the weekend and have already forced themselves into the conversation atop their new conference with a pair of historical powers.

The Patriot League has a very special place in my heart. I grew up about 10 minutes away from Holy Cross and made a habit of going to Patriot League championship games with my dad back in the year 2000s when Ralph WIllard had one of the strongest mid-major teams in the country. John Feinstein's The Last Amateurs was a summer reading choice of mine when I was in high school. Suffice to say, I'm a fan of the league and what it represents.

The past few seasons have seen a lot of change from those years, however. NBA-caliber talents like Mike Muscala and C.J. McCollum have called the league home, Holy Cross has experienced a free-fall from grace, many programs have gone through leadership changes, and new members Loyola and Boston University have added a new element to the league.

As the conference season looms, there is still much uncertainty regarding who will emerge as the conference's NCAA Tournament representative. There are three clearcut teams that sit atop the conference, a crowded middle group sits in the middle, and three once-proud programs have struggled in their respective non-conference schedules. The league isn't exactly wide open, but it is certainly going to be an intriguing watch over the next few months.

1. Bucknell Bison (5-5, Rating Average 2)

Dave Paulsen's group only had one game this past week, falling 69-51 on the road to Marist in a game that saw them shoot just 29 percent from the field and post an egregious 7-to-13 assist-to-turnover ratio. Solid wins over Penn State, Kent State and Albany on the road have helped their rating, but they will need to get their feet under them in time for next Saturday's non-conference finale against Fairfield.

This week: 12/28 vs. Fairfield.

2. Colgate Red Raiders (6-4, Rating Average 2.2)

Not much to talk about here, just your run-of-the-mill 28-point win over Ursinus. The win gives 'Gate its second straight win after a tough losses to Georgetown and Fordham earlier this month. With three players averaging double digits at the moment, Matt Langel has to feel good about his team's ability to get the job done once Patriot League play starts up.

This week: None

3. Boston University Terriers (7-5, Rating Average 2.4)

The Terriers got a signature win this week with an 83-77 win over Maryland on the road. D.J Irving has been fantastic as the off guard in Joe Jones' three-guard offense as most of the playmaking responsibility has been given to Maurice Watson. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak and puts BU in good position to come out of its non-conference slate with its head three-games above water.

This week: 12/29 at St. Joseph's

4. Lehigh Mountain Hawks (7-5, Rating Average 4.6)

The Mountain Hawks have come into their own after opening the season with a tough five-game stretch that included Minnesota, Houston and Fordham that saw them drop to 1-4. Lehigh has rebounded with five straight wins, the latest a 69-58 victory over Quinnipiac over the weekend. Brett Reed's team wraps up its non-conference schedule with Bryant next Monday.

This week: None

5. Holy Cross Crusaders (6-5, Rating Average 4.6)

The Crusaders have had their moments this year, specifically in close losses to Harvard (82-72) and North Carolina (62-54). But they have also thrown some serious curveballs like a split with Hartford that saw them beat the Hawks 80-55 one week, only to fall 90-78 two weeks later. Holy Cross wraps up its non-conference slate with Michigan before kicking off its Patriot League slate with BU.

This week: 12/28 at Michigan

6. Lafayette Leopards (4-6, Rating Average 6)

Lafayette started the season with losses in its first five games. Since then, the Leopards have won four of five contests, only see their quest for .500 halted by Saint Francis (NY) on Thursday in a 65-62 loss in which Bryce Scott poured in 35 points. They wrap up their non-conference schedule with Seton Hall on Friday

This Week: 12/27 at Seton Hall

7. Loyola Greyhounds (5-5, Rating Average 7.6)

The other newcomers to the Patriot League have lost their last three games after kicking the season off with four straight wins. Dylon Cormier leads the league in scoring and has scored at least 20 points in all but two games. In its two big-time games, Loyola fell to UConn and West Virginia and will try to come out on top in the non-conference season by giving Miami (FL) a run next Monday. The MAAC transplants still have some work to do to crack the top half of the Patriot League.

This Week: None

8. American Eagles (3-7, Rating Average 7.6)

This is a confusing group right now. I watched them give Ohio State all it could handle earlier this season, but have since lost games to Mount Saint Mary's, Columbia, Brown, St. Mary's and San Francisco. First-year coach Mike Brennan has the Eagles playing well below the national average for possessions per 40 minutes (62.3 vs. 69.81), which would be fine if they were making the most of them, but they aren't (0.98 PPP vs. 1.02). Maryland-Eastern Shore should be a nice wrap up for them before the conference season.

This Week: 12/29 at Maryland-Eastern Shore

9. Navy Midshipmen (5-5, Rating Average 8.4)

Don't let the Midshipmen's .500 record fool you, they haven't beaten a team rated higher than 302 in the RPI and have been outscored by a combined 35 points in their two games against the top 100. Those numbers won't be helped in the last game of the non-conference schedule, as they face UMBC and its 332 RPI.

This Week: None

10. Army Black Knights (3-7, Rating Average 9.6)

Bottoming out in two of the five metrics used to compute the Rating Average for these power rankings is no way to start your season. The Black Knights had a much better showing in their last game, a 75-72 loss at Rutgers, thanks in large part to 29 points from Kyle Wilson. It was the sixth time in 10 games that Wilson has topped 20 points and his 18.5 points per game average is nearly double the next highest scorer on the team. Army closes out its non-conference season with Division III Coast Guard.

This Week: None

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