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Patriot League finals preview: The top teams face off for a trip to the big dance

Colgate swept the season series against Navy, winning the last game by 5

Colgate v Syracuse Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

How to Watch

Location: Cotterell Court, Hamilton, New York

Tip Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

Television: CBS Sports Network

DraftKings Betting Line: Colgate -6.5, O/U 127.5

Chalk. Outside of the first round of the Patriot League Tournament, that’s exactly how it went. The two four seeds advanced to the semifinals and the top two teams will battle it out today for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Colgate has run through the Patriot League, again, scoring 70 or more in 16 of its last 18 and winning big in pretty much all of them. Navy is the opposite, as they run one of the best defenses in the country, allowing more than 64 only once since the start of February apart from Sunday’s overtime thriller against Boston University, and that was against these very Colgate Raiders.

Those very Colgate Raiders swept the season series against Navy in quite impressive fashion but they say it’s hard to beat a good team three times in a season. Can the Raiders make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season or will Navy pull off the upset and make it back to their first big dance since 1998.

Navy

It was no easy road for the Midshipmen to get back to the title game, but they did it for the first time since 2001! Now, they’ll look to make their first big dance since 1998.

Last season, Navy lost in its conference tournament opener as the one-seed to rival Loyola (MD). They were heartbroken. One of the best regular seasons in Midshipmen history just crumbled in front of their eyes.

Luckily, Navy responded this season with yet another 20-win season, finishing in second place on the Patriot League. They would open league play with a matchup against the tenth-seeded American Eagles, as AU looked for the same magic as Loyola from a year before.

The Midshipmen would breeze themselves to a 71-64 victory over the Eagles and the first rung of the latter was stepped through. Next, they would host Boston University, a team they beat two times in the regular season.

In one of the most intense basketball games that I’ve ever watched live, Boston University’s Javante McCoy hit big shot after big shot, including a deep 3 to force the extra frame. Navy would fight through all that adversity though, as their bench came out strong with 30 more points than the Terriers, beating them by 30 in that category, and five on the floor.

“I’m really proud of our team, hard-fought game,” Navy head coach Ed DeChellis said postgame. “These kids have worked real hard.”

The academy that is so routine orientated feels something different in the air as they changed their locker room passcode to 1998#, the last time they made the big dance. Let’s see if they can do so.

Colgate

Winners of 14 straight games, Colgate put very little doubt in the mind of viewers that they would be making the trip back to the Patriot League title game, winning the quarterfinal by 28 and the semifinal by 20.

It began with an offensive masterclass against Bucknell, winning by a score of 96-68. They finished the evening shooting 66.7% from the field, and at a 13-19 tilt from behind the arch.

Jack Ferguson almost locked himself in for the tournament’s most outstanding player award during that game as he scored 28 points, missing only two shots from the field and going 7-8 from behind the arch.

The Raiders would follow that up with an 81-61 victory over Lehigh on national television, never giving the Mountain Hawks a real chance to stick into this game.

Colgate was more stymied in this game offensively, but 49% from the field is nothing to turn your head about.

Now, the Raiders will look for the three-game sweep against Navy after beating them by 19 in Annapolis and five to end the regular season in Hamilton. In the most recent matchup, Colgate was held to a 38.5% mark from the field, but turnovers ended up being the ultimate downfall for the Midshipmen.

Prediction

Colgate should be going dancing for the second year in a row, but I think Navy may battle it out with them. They found how to shut them down somewhat offensively in the last matchup and if they would’ve limited the turnovers, it could’ve very well been the Midshipmen’s. Matt Langel has that big game pedigree though and this Colgate offense is far too potent to be held quiet like that again. It should be far more high-scoring than the prior two matchups as Colgate wins but Navy covers, 86-80.