Two full weeks into the Patriot League season, things are beginning to take shape. Boston University and American have established themselves as the teams to beat early on, while Navy and Lafayette are left searching for answers. Somewhere in the middle is a dark horse, though. It dons black and gold and will spend the better part of the next decade protecting our freedom.
That's right: I'm talking about The Black Knights of the Hudson from the U.S. Military Academy.
After starting from the bottom of the rankings, Army has seen a steady improvement in the rankings and sit atop of the league along side the the aforementioned Terriers and Eagles. They haven't reached the top yet, but if they continue to win games it won't be long before they are challenging for one of the top two spots in the conference's most powerful rankings.
Speaking of which, let's see where everyone lines up this week.
1. Boston University Terriers (11-6, 4-0; Rating Average 1)
The Terriers swept their schedule again this week by blowing Navy out of the water on Tuesday and then handling Lafayette on Saturday. Beating up on the bottom of the conference doesn't tell us anything new, but taking care of business goes a long way in one of the most unpredictable conferences in America.
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Schedule: 1/15 vs. Colgate, 7:00 p.m.
2. American University Eagles (8-7, 4-0; Rating Average 3.2)
The Eagles withstood a tough test on Saturday against Colgate, taking the Raiders' best shot before ultimately closing the game out. That came on the heels of an impressive win over Loyola on Wednesday in which the Eagles passed their opponents into submission with 21 assists on 25 made baskets. For the season, American has assisted on 62.9 percent of its made baskets running Mike Brennan's variation of the Princeton back-cut heavy offense.
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Schedule: 1/15 at Lehigh, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 vs. Lafayette, 2:00 p.m.
3. Bucknell Bison (8-7, 3-1; Rating Average 3.8)
Bucknell got two wins this week and have rebounded well since falling to American in its Patriot League opener. After hanging 96 points on Lafayette, the Bison had a different kind of test on Saturday in Holy Cross and they performed admirably. All nine Bison that played registered a point, led by Ben Brackney and his 13 points. Chris Hass had a bit of an off game, but has otherwise been one of the brighter stars in the league thus far. I promise I'll stop mispelling his name.
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Schedule: 1/15 at Navy, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 at Army, 3:00 p.m.
4. Holy Cross Crusaders (7-9, 1-3; Rating Average 5.2)
The Crusaders have been decidedly average in conference play, but much of that has to do with the schedule they have played. Holy Cross' three losses have come to the teams listed above, while their lone win came against a winless Colgate squad. They should have had a better shot at beating Bucknell, but some poor execution and shot choice saw them come up just short. Things don't get any easier this week with Army and Lehigh on the schedule.
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Schedule: 1/15 at Army, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 vs. Lehigh, 4:00 p.m.
5. Army Black Knights (8-7, 4-0; Rating Average 5.4)
Here we find our Black Knights. Hurting their chance to be in the top three of the rankings are their poor strength of schedule and RPI numbers, both of which are a factor of their non-conference schedule. In league however, Army has been a handful and proved they can win without playing well on Saturday when they topped Navy despite making 2-of-11 attempts from three. This is the week we find out how good they are, though, as Holy Cross and Bucknell make stops at West Point.
American Storms Back Against Colgate
The Eagles managed to pull it together in the second half after allowing Colgate to shoot 71 percent in the first half.
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Schedule: 1/15 vs. Holy Cross, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 vs. Bucknell, 3:00 p.m.
6. Lehigh Mountain Hawks (8-9, 1-3; Rating Average 6)
Lehigh has hit a bit of a slide since its two-overtime win over Colgate in the conference opener, dropping three-straight to BU, Army, and then Loyola on the weekend. Mackey McKnight has picked up a lot of the scoring slack for the Mountain Hawks, but when you are relying on him to outscore Dylon Cormier, you're running a bit of a fool's errand. Teams are working on shutting down freshman Tim Kempton, too. After scoring 25 against Colgate, he has scored 29 total points in the three games since.
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Schedule: 1/15 vs. American, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 at Holy Cross, 4:00 p.m.
7. Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds (7-8, 2-2; Rating Average 6.2)
After being held to just 13 points against American, Cormier topped the 20-point plateau for the third time in four Patriot League games. American slowed the game down and forced Loyola to play at its pace, limiting opportunities for Cormier. If other teams in the league can replicate that formula, Loyola could see many more 1-1 weeks ahead.
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Schedule: 1/13 vs. Lafayette, 7:30 p.m.
8. Colgate Raiders (6-9, 0-4; Rating Average 6.8)
If there is one thing to be said of Colgate, it is that the Raiders have faced the toughest Patriot League slate of any team in the conference thus far. Many teams would be 0-4 if they had played Lehigh, Bucknell, Holy Cross and American so far, and they will likely by 0-5 after Wednesday's matchup with BU. As the first round of games closes out, the Raiders should be able to pick up wins against Lafayette, Loyola and Navy, but those games will be tough. A 3-6 record after an 0-5 start is doable, but 4-5 would be ideal.
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Schedule: 1/15 at BU, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 vs. Navy, 2:00 p.m.
9. Lafayette Leopards (4-11, 0-4; Rating Average 8.4)
Poor Lafayette. Even as its offense has rounded into form over the last few games, the Leopards have continued to falter on defense. In this league 86 and 78 points should be enough to win games...unless you give up 96 and 89. Seth Hinrichs is still out with an injury, but if the Leopards can somehow keep up this potency when he gets back they will see themselves beat some very good teams.
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Schedule: 1/13 at Loyola, 7:30 p.m.; 1/18 at American, 1:00 p.m.
10. Navy Midshipmen (6-9, 1-3; Rating Average 9)
I can't explain to you how bad Navy looked against BU. The scoreboard, which read 55-32 by game's end, tells some of the story, but it really never even felt that close. So when I saw the Mids give Army a run on Saturday, I was heartened that they had found some semblance of offense without Tillman Dunbar, who is still suspended. Still, they lost the game and their lone win over Lafayette hardly makes up for their three losses.
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Schedule: 1/15 vs. Bucknell, 7:00 p.m.; 1/18 at Colgate, 2:00 p.m.