The conference that has produced C.J. McCollum and Mike Muscala is well on its way to another NCAA Tournament bid, and it’s likely the best player in the conference won’t come from either of those teams.
However, one trait that has branded some of the best players in this league from McCollum to Zach Thomas of Bucknell is a high 3-point percentage. The Patriot League produces scorers from behind the arc.
Bucknell secured the No. 1 seed and a bye in the Patriot League Tournament set to begin on Tuesday. Zach Thomas has led the team with 16.0 points per game and an astounding 43.6% 3-point percentage. Nana Foulland has had an equally important presence for the Bison as he’s nearly averaged a double-double with 14.8 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game.
These two star juniors rely on a key playmaker though, Kimbal Mackenzie. In Bucknell’s win against Navy Saturday, he dished out seven assists. However, two of the Bison’s three in conference losses have come to Lehigh who not only out-rebounded but out-shot Bucknell at their own game, from behind the arc.
The Lehigh Mountain Hawks are clearly Bucknell’s biggest threat and they may fare better for the Patriot League in the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks have beaten the Ivy League-leading Princeton Tigers, and gave Xavier a run for their money earlier in the season. They received a bye as the No. 3 seed in the tournament, and are set to play Colgate at home in the quarterfinals.
Tim Kempton puts Foulland to shame, averaging a league-high 19.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Hawks. He has scored 25+ points in seven games this year, including some key buckets against Bucknell. Guards Austin Price and Kyle Leufroy have also been a key duo for the Hawks.
A third team to throw in the mix for the championship is No. 2 Boston University. The Terriers are a high-accuracy shooting team led by Justin Alston with a 56.2% FG percentage. and Eric Fanning with a 41.6% FG percentage. However, they’ve suffered horrific losses to Bucknell, Army and Navy.
At the end of the day, a matchup in Pennsylvania seems likely. Lehigh vs Bucknell would be a classic matchup of two liberal arts colleges with a lot to offer in the Big Dance.
The tournament will begin next Tuesday with No. 8 Army vs No. 9 American and No. 7 Loyola Maryland vs No. 10 Lafayette. The games will be aired on CBS Sports Network.
Image from @PL_MBB.