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Patriot League Tournament bracket and preview: Senior-heavy squads look for their last hurrahs

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As many as seven teams have a legitimate shot to win this league.

Army v American Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Ever since last March, the Colgate Raiders have been the clear favorite in the Patriot League. The only problem is: The Patriot League is a streaky league, and the Raiders dropped two of their last five games, of which were against the #7 and #9 teams in the league.

If Lehigh could pull off the clutch victory over Loyola (MD) on Tuesday, the Raiders will have a clear path to the finals. If not, watch chaos ensue in the Patriot League.

Bracket

Schedule

Note: Higher seeds host each game. All times Eastern.

First Round (Tuesday, March 3) — Patriot League Network

Game 1: No. 9 Loyola (MD) @ No. 8 Lehigh, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No. 10 Holy Cross @ No. 7 Bucknell, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinal (Thursday, March 5) Stadium or Patriot League Network

Game 3: Game 1 winner @ No. 1 Colgate, 7 p.m.

Game 4: No. 5 Lafayette @ No. 4 Army, 7 p.m.

Game 5: No. 6 Navy @ No. 3 Boston University, 7 p.m.

Game 6: Game 2 winner @ No. 2 American, 7 p.m.

Semifinal (Sunday March 8) — CBS Sports Network

Game 7: Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 winner, noon or 2 p.m.

Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon or 2 p.m.

Final (Wednesday March 11) — CBS Sports Network

Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.

The Favorite

Colgate (23-8, 14-4): Colgate returns mostly everyone from its 2019 NCAA Tournament team that almost beat 2 seed Tennessee. Jordan Burns leads the Raiders. He has scored double digits in all but three games this year, one of those being the Raiders’ upset victory over Cincinnati. Behind him is Colgate’s big men Rapolas Ivanauskus and Will Rayman. They both average around 13 PPG and are in the top four of the conference in rebounds per game. Their 52.9 3FG% has been a key throughout the regular season.

The Dark Horses

Boston U (18-13, 12-6): BU has won eight of its last 11 games after a 10-10 start, and are one of the hottest teams in the league. Leading the Terriers is their lone senior, Max Mahoney. Mahoney is a pure big man, averaging 15.6 PPG and 8.1 RPG, without making a single three pointer on the year. The key cog they were missing last year was a guard. Walter Whyte missed 2018-19 due to injury, but he has come back stronger than ever. The guard is averaging 12.7 PPG and 7.2 RPG. If Boston U ends up facing American in the Patriot League semifinals, it’ll be must watch TV. Both their games were decided by four points in the regular season.

American (16-13, 12-6): Sa’eed Nelson. Learn the name. The senior is American’s all-time leading scorer, and is one of eight players in NCAA to record over 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 250 steals. This season, he has two eight-steal games and has scored double-digits in all but two games. American has never won a conference tournament game when he was in Tenleytown. The Eagles will try to change that.

Loyola (MD) (15-16, 7-11): The Hounds took a huge hit on Wednesday as one of their leaders Andrew Kostecka went down with ankle injury. He leads the league with 19.9 PPG. But at the beginning of February, another key piece came back from a knee injury: Santi Aldama. The freshman won the 2019 U18 European Championships for Spain, winning the MVP of the tournament. Through nine games for the team on Cold Spring Lane, he averages 14.3 PPG and 7.4 RPG.

The Long Shots

Army (15-14, 10-8): One of the founding members of the Never Made the Tournament Club will have one of its best players ever graduate at the end of the season. If Tommy Funk can replicate his recent performance against Navy, the Black Knights might have a chance to dance.

Lafayette (18-11, 10-8): Fran O’Hanlon’s boys have beat Colgate twice in 2020. If they meet in the semifinals, Lafayette might be able to pull the upset again.

Navy (14-15, 8-10): Navy beat BU in the regular season and have a young and aggressive offense. The problem is, they go as their opponent goes. They could score either 40 or 80 points in a game.

Players to Watch

  • Jordan Burns, Colgate (15.6 PPG, 4.45 APG, 40.3% FG%)
  • Rapolas Ivanauskus, Colgate (12.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 42.5% FG%)
  • Will Rayman, Colgate (12.7 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 44.3% FG%)
  • Max Mahoney, Boston U (15.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 59% FG%)
  • Walter Whyte, Boston U (12.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 44.8% FG%)
  • Sa’eed Nelson, American (18.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 49.3% FG%)
  • Tommy Funk, Army (17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 44.7% FG%)
  • Matt Wilson, Army (16.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 63.2% FG%)
  • Justin Jaworski, Lafayette (17.1 PPG, 44.2% FG%)
  • Cam Davis, Navy (16.4 PPG, 41.1% FG%)
  • Andrew Kostecka, Loyola (19.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 50.4% FG%)
  • Santi Aldama, Loyola (14.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 44.2% FG%)
  • Joe Pridgen, Holy Cross (17.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 55.2% FG%)

Prediction

Expect Colgate to make the dance again, but don’t be shocked if any of the top six seeds win too. Keep in mind that a sub-.500 Holy Cross team won this tournament as a 9 seed in 2016, so teams like Loyola (MD), Army and Lafayette could upset the top seeds this year.