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Patriot League Tournament bracket, preview, and schedule

Fran O’Hanlon looks for one last NCAA Tournament bid, Colgate looks for another

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 22 Lafayette at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Riding high off a 12-game win streak, Colgate is once again at the top of the Patriot League. For the third straight normal season (Navy earned the top seed in division format last year), the Raiders have won the Patriot League regular-season title.

Behind them, the league has a couple of storylines and as we know, nothing ever goes as planned in this tournament, ask Navy. Last season, the Midshipmen finished in first place but lost their quarterfinal to Santi Aldama and the Loyola Greyhounds.

Navy had yet another strong season which included a season-opening victory at Virginia, finishing in second place of the league. The Mids have shown they have one of the best defenses in the country as they’ve held their opponents to under 56 points in six of their last seven.

Up north, Boston University has one of the best big men in the nation. His name is Suk Mathon. The Terriers are still looking to avenge their stripped ticket to the 2020 NCAA Tournament and have all the pieces to do so. They also are one of two Patriot League teams to beat Colgate.

Then, Fran O’Hanlon. The coaching legend will retire after 27 years at Lafayette. In the second round, he could face Colgate. Go on from there and potentially he gets one last date with Lehigh.

Bracket

Schedule

Site: All Higher Seeds

All Times Eastern

First Round (Tuesday, March 1st), ESPN+

Game 1: No.9 Bucknell vs No.8 Lafayette, 7 p.m.

Game 2: No.10 American vs No.7 Holy Cross, 7 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Thursday, March 3rd), ESPN+

Game 3: Game 1 Winner vs No.1 Colgate, 7 p.m.

Game 4: No.5 Army vs No.4 Lehigh, 7 p.m.

Game 5: No.6 Loyola (MD) vs No.3 Boston University, 7 p.m.

Game 6: Game 2 winner vs No.2 Navy, 7 p.m.

Semifinals (Sunday, March 6th), CBS Sports Network

Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs Game 4 Winner, 2/4 p.m.

Game 8: Game 5 Winner vs Game 6 Winner, 2/4 p.m.

Finals (Wednesday, March 9th), CBS Sports Network

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

The Favorite

Colgate (20-11, 16-2): Matt Langel has built Colgate into the monster that haunts all the Patriot League. Clinching their third straight conference title in seasons that don’t involve divisions, the Raiders have amounted to a 66-18 record since 2018 in the Patriot League. It doesn’t matter who graduates, they continue to finish at the top of the league.

This season, the offense has been insane, especially from 3-point range. Ranking No. 5 in KenPom in 3-point percentage, all their top eight producers rank above 35% from behind the arch. They have hit double-digit 3s in four of their last five games and have scored 70 or more in 14 of their 18 Patriot League games.

All five of the Raiders starters average double-digit points, so you can’t go wrong with choosing anyone to go off on any given night. They beat Syracuse in the non-conference and just barely lost to NC State and Pitt. If placed in the ACC tournament, there’s a good chance the Raiders would make it to the semifinals.

The Darkhorse

Navy (19-10, 12-6): Unlike Colgate, the Midshipmen are all defense. In the month of February, they’ve allowed more than 64 points only once and that was to Colgate. No player is above-and-beyond on offense, but the injury bug has hit them at times. Greg Summers has played four total minutes in the last three games, but Sean Yoder has stepped up. Along with the well-roundness of the team, they have the best resume of all the teams in the league. Opening the season with a win at Virginia, they coupled it with a win at Furman later in the month, holding one of the better mid-major offenses in the country to only 66 points. When you look at it, Navy has the best resume in the league.

The Longshots

Boston University (20-11, 11-7): Joe James still has a lot of pieces from that 2020 NCAA Tournament team that wasn’t, and they’re looking to actually dance this year. One of those pieces could be the player of the year in the Patriot League, Mathon. He has picked up 16 double-doubles this season and ranks in the top 35 of both offensive and defensive ratings. He isn’t even the top scorer on the team as Javante McCoy is averaging 17.1 PPG. The Terriers also have everyone’s favorite, Walter Whyte, who averages 12.7 PPG. Earlier this season, they knocked off Colgate. If that’s not impressive enough, they lost by one at Florida State, taking the Seminoles to overtime.

Army (15-15, 9-9): If it wasn’t for a six-game losing streak in February, one of the original members of the NMTC could be hosting a quarterfinal game. Led by scoring machine Jalen Rucker, the Black Knights scored the most points this season against both Colgate and Navy. That Navy game happened to be the largest comeback victory in Patriot League history.

Lafayette (10-19, 7-11): O’Hanlon is retiring after 27 seasons at the helm of Lafayette, so why not make one last run? They played Colgate close during both matchups this season, upset Rutgers, and run a disciplined offense. All seven feet of Neal Quinn has been dominant down low, scoring 14.6 points and averaging 7.4 rebounds per game. Expect some fight out of this team.

Players to Watch

Nelly Cummings, Colgate (14.6 PPG, 3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 38.4% FG%)

Tucker Richardson, Colgate (12.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 43.3% FG%)

Jack Ferguson, Colgate (11.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 41.8% FG%)

Ryan Moffatt, Colgate (10.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 52.9% FG%)

Keegan Records, Colgate (10.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 64.3% FG%)

John Carter Jr., Navy (12.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 39.8% FG%)

Javante McCoy, Boston University (17.1 PPG, 4 RPG, 3 APG, 49.5% FG%)

Suk Mathon, Boston University (15.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 52.9% FG%)

Evan Taylor, Lehigh (13.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 48.3% FG%)

Jalen Rucker, Army (16.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 40.1% FG%)

Cam Spencer, Loyola (MD) (18.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.2 APG, 46.5% FG%)

Jaylin Andrews, Loyola (MD) (13.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 40.2% FG%)

Neal Quinn, Lafayette (14.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, 54.4% FG%)

Gerrale Gates, Holy Cross (16.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 42.5% FG%)

Stacy Beckton Jr., American (13.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 43.4% FG%)

Andrew Funk, Bucknell (17.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 42.8% FG%)

Prediction

Something is telling me that Lafayette will upset Colgate in what will be O’Hanlon’s last win, and we will get an Army-Navy final. The Mids will come out triumphant for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998 and will be a popular upset pick because they beat Virginia earlier this season.