Throughout the conference season, we'll provide our Patriot League power rankings tracking all the teams in the league. We'll use statistical analysis, the eye test, and more to evaluate where the 10 teams stand from week to week. The efficiency margin tool does not determine our rankings but rather helps guide us in our analysis. For example, do we believe American is the second-to-worst team in the league? No. KenPom's model isn't favorable to the Eagles. See below for our rankings, and of course feedback is welcomed.
1. Lehigh (6-5) — The only real blemish from non-conference play is a loss against Stony Brook, when the Mountain Hawks managed a season-low 57 points. Other than that, Lehigh's losses came against teams no lower than 130 in the KenPom rankings. What's scary for the rest of the league is that the Kempton/Ross/Price/Leufroy quartet has plenty of help. Pat Andree made national news for knocking down his first eight and 10 3s total against St. Francis, and look at the combined shooting of Andree, Matt Holba, Brandon Alston, and backup point guard Jordan Cohen. This team is a legitimate eight deep.
2. Bucknell (8-5) — Surprise, surprise, Bucknell is balanced and primed for a crack at a sixth regular-season title in seven years. The Bison have six players who, when on the floor, take at least 23% of their team's shots and no one takes more than, surprise, Nate Sestina's 27.7%. Meanwhile, Nana Foulland has taken the jump. The junior is the best conference post player outside of two-time POY Tim Kempton and is shooting a ridiculous 76% at the rim, per hoop-math. His only weakness, and one to watch out for, is 48% shooting from the FT line.
3. Boston (5-7) — The Terriers limp into league play, having dropped six of their last seven. For a team that attempts 43% of its shots from 3, 33.8% isn't good enough from long range. The Terriers' shooting woes start with Eric Fanning (8-27, 29%), who probably should just stop launching from deep. More surprising is Chedi Moseley (21-62, 34%), whose touch has dropped precipitously since hitting 39% as a freshman. Speaking of youngsters, 6-7 freshman Tyler Scanlon boasts the second-best O-rating on the team and is a respectable 35% from deep. A freshman to watch in league play.
4. Holy Cross (6-7) — There's nothing surprising here. Holy Cross is old, with a bench that plays just 20.4% of minutes (350th out of 351 teams nationally). Holy Cross is slow and deliberate, averaging just 61.8 possessions per game (348th). And the Crusaders rely heavily on the 3, attempting 45.7% of their shots from deep and connecting on a pedestrian 35.3%. Holy Cross already has three games in which it hit double-digit 3s, including 14 in an insane last-minute loss to Monmouth. As our guy Sam Healy pointed out, what makes the Crusaders tough to guard on the perimeter is that it's their big guys hitting 3s as opposed to small guards. Robert Champion (6-6), Karl Charles (6-6), Malachi Alexander (6-7) and Matt Husek (6-11) are the main shooters, and you can see who's using the Crusaders' possessions in different lineups below.
5. Army (6-6) — Say what you want about Army and its weak non-conference schedule, but the young Black Knights deserve to be ranked in the league's top half and are one of the most intriguing teams going into league play. Freshman forward Matt Wilson is helping Army fans move on from the Kevin Ferguson era. Despite playing just 17.1mpg, Wilson is averaging 11.2ppg on 65% shooting. It will be interesting to see how teams match up with Army's fast attack (their 73.5 possessions per 40 minutes is 46th nationally).
6. Loyola (6-5) — KenPom projects a 63-62 Loyola win over American tomorrow in the league opener, and we're going to barely side with the Greyhounds here, too. Of course, positions could be flipped come Monday. I have a hard time understanding how bad of a scorer Andre Walker can be when it seems like every time I look up, the junior is making a game-winning shot. He's clutch — give him that. AU's emphasis should be on making him leave the 3-point arc, which has been his only efficient scoring area this year. Only two Greyhounds have shot better than 50% on two-pointers this season.
7. American (3-8) — The X-factor for the Eagles in league play will be Lonnie Rivera, who's just finding his form after not playing in six of the Eagles' first eight games. Nobody attacks the rim better, where Rivera attempts 57.9% of shots and makes 63.6% of them. And what Rivera adds defensively and rebounding with his length, too, will be a key for American going forward. To get a better feel for Rivera's contributions, see his numbers per 40 minutes.
8. Navy (5-7) — Navy impressively beat a pretty good Penn team. On the other hand, the Midshipmen got destroyed by a bad Furman team by 33 points and most recently lost to Hartford (319 KenPom). What's clear if you compare this Navy team against last year's is that the defense has fallen off:
Navy 2015-16 (all games): 102 D-rating, 48.8 E-FG%
Navy 2016-17 (non-conference): 106.3, 57.8# (336th nationally)
Navy must miss Will Kelley, whose block rate of 13.0% was second nationally. The team's two-point defense has fallen from 45.9% to 56.5%. A bit tougher to explain is how opponents are shooting 39% compared to 35% from 3. Regardless, teams will be able to score much easier on Navy in league play this year.
9. Colgate (2-11) — The Red Raiders have beaten just one Division I team, Cornell way back on Nov. 16. If there's a silver lining it's that of Colgate's 11 losses, seven have been by single digits. They're not just getting blown out. A player to watch in league play — freshman Will Rayman. The 6-8, 200-pound freshman can score inside and out, having reached double figures in nine of his first 13 games including 28 vs. Penn State.
10. Lafayette (4-7) — The good news: The Leopards' defense per 100 possessions is better than last year. The bad news: it's still really poor (111.0 vs. 114.8 a year ago). As was the case last year, there's simply not enough firepower on the roster to overcome such poor defense. Fran O'Hanlon hasn't had a defense finish in the top 300 nationally in efficiency since 2013.