The Patriot League tournament kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday, March 1) and with it comes the excitement of ten teams competing for a tourney berth. Whether you're a conference big man on campus like Bucknell or a quiet, nerdy bookworm like Lafayette, the dream is the same: become Cinderella.
I wrote the 3MW Patriot League preview in the pre-season, so first let's see how I did:
I'd give myself about a B- on this one. Missing the conference winner hurts, but I wouldn't call it a disaster; I'll dive deeper below.
Revised All-Conference Selections:
Really not too much of a difference here than my pre-season selections. Cedric Hankerson from BU was hurt most of the year, but my POY Kempton did not disappoint, nor did Bucknell's Chris Haas and Army's Tanner Plomb. Woopsie daisy on Austin Tillotson though.
Best Call(s): My best call standings-wise was picking the top two teams, though to be fair I'm pretty sure everyone in the country had Bucknell and Lehigh finishing one-two in some order. Tim Kempton won the Player of the Year this season so that goes down as a "good call" as well.
Worst Call(s): My worst calls were underrating Navy and Colgate. I picked these two schools to finish last and boom Navy turns out to be a pretty good ball team and Colgate wasn't nearly as atrocious as I said they'd be (chalk that one up to a lot of unknowns for the Raiders in the preseason). I was disappointed in Army this season; this is a team I really thought had the chops to win the conference and here they finish 9-9.
Who I want to win: Army. Hands down. The Black Knights have never made an NCAA Tournament and I love this squad's potential this season. The combination of Plomb, Ferguson, and Wilson as a three-headed dragon gives them a great shot at pulling the upset.
Who I think will win: Lehigh. Bucknell was the best team in the Patriot overall this season, but the Mountain Hawks were my preseason pick to win it all and they have CPOY Tim Kempton. In addition, Bucknell's road is tougher with a potential matchup with Loyola (MD) (who isn't that bad!) and then my Army Black Knights. (By the way Lehigh beat Bucknell by 15 at Bucknell on February 10th).
Chance to make a run: Aside from Army, I really think Boston has a good shot at surprising some teams and taking the ship. The Terriers can put the ball in the basket with scoring machines Eric Fanning and Cheddi Mosely and are good enough defensively to compete with Lehigh and Bucknell. Long shot is Navy who finished 9-9 in the conference but earned the 7th seed due to tiebreakers (yes, I do realize I picked two teams on the same side of the bracket as Lehigh as having good chances at making a run). As far as NCAA Tourney run goes - the winner of this conference tournament is a lock for a 16-seed, so a run doesn't seem likely given no 1-seed has ever fallen in the first round.
How it plays out: Here's how I see it:
(8) Loyola (MD) defeats (9) Holy Cross
(7) Navy defeats (10) Lafayette
(1) Bucknell defeats (8) Loyola (MD)
(4) Army defeats (5) Colgate
(3) Boston defeats (6) American
(2) Lehigh defeats (7) Navy
(4) Army defeats (1) Bucknell
(2) Lehigh defeats (3) Boston
(2) Lehigh defeats (4) Army
Lehigh earns a 16 seed.