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. Boston (5-0): One reason for the Terriers' continued excellence from 3-point range (an absurd 45.7% during Patriot League play): pace. BU's average possession length of 16 seconds in conference play is second and as is the trend in college basketball, the Terriers' fast break features multiple players spotting up for open looks. So far, so good. Additionally, the Terriers have gotten off to this fast start minus one of their top shooters Cheddi Mosely, who's been out for "an internal matter" since December, and top shot-blocker Blaise Mbargorba (same reason). Assuming they return soon (unknown), BU will have a legitimate two-lineup rotation that could help as the Terriers still have two games vs. Bucknell and at Lehigh left.
2. Bucknell (5-1): The Bison fell at home to Lehigh, but recovered nicely with a 14-point win at Colgate and are still are up one in the loss column on the Mountain Hawks. No team has been more consistent all season -- the Bison haven't lost consecutive games -- or is more proven on the road, where Bucknell is 6-4 and where it played four of its first six league games (going 4-0). Consistency comes from getting the ball inside (a league-best 57.3% on 2s); getting to the line (a league-best 50.6% FTR); and not overly relying on one scorer. Against Colgate, it was Stephen Brown scoring 21 points -- the fourth guy to lead Bucknell in scoring this season.
3. Lehigh (4-2): Tim Kempton has been borderline unguardable in league play, especially with opponents respecting the Mountains Hawks' 3-point shooting prowess and leaving defenders alone on him. He's averaging 22.1 ppg and getting to the line more than eight times a game. Additionally, he's vastly improved his outside shot (10-25, 40% on the season). It's hard to argue that the big man isn't en route to his third consecutive Patriot League POY award.
4. Navy (3-3): The Midshipmen absolutely lambasted hapless Lafayette on Saturday to the tune of 88-51 -- helping pad the Patriot League's lead out of 30 conferences in blowouts (games won by 19 or more points). Now 3.4% of the league's games have been that lopsided. After an 0-3 start, Navy has reeled off three consecutive victories by double digits over Colgate, Loyola and Lafayette. A look at their efficiency numbers spells out just how different of a team the Midshipmen have been, led by an incredibly balanced attack (five players scoring between 8.2 and 9.7ppg in league play; no double-digit scorers).
5. Holy Cross (3-3): The Crusaders are the 3rd-slowest adjusted tempo team in the country (61.2 possessions per 40 minutes), which explains the Crusaders being able to stay with and take a one-point halftime lead against Lehigh (the game was played at a snail pace, with just 60-61 possessions total). Holy Cross also continues to rely heavily on the 3-point shot, with no offensive rebounding presence or ability to get to the free-throw line — a formula that opens up the Crusaders to stretches like the 16-0 spurt Lehigh went on to quickly take control of the game in the second half. Until Holy Cross becomes more balanced, it's hard to see the Crusaders challenging the top teams in the league (of course, the one-game format of the PL tournament is a different story).
6. Army (2-4): One thing hasn't changed under first-year coach Jimmy Allen — the Black Knights love to get the ball up the floor. In fact, Allen's young team is just a tad slower (72.7 to 72.2 possessions per 40 minutes) than Spiker's senior-laden crew of a year ago.
36.8% — Initial shot of a possession in transition
12.9% — Initial shot of a possessions that comes within 10 seconds after an opponent's basket (this is really impressive; watch the video below for how Army burned American on this twice).
7. American (1-5): The Eagles might be at the bottom of the standings, but they have already played the Big Three (two of them on the road) and have been in every game late. They just need to learn how to finish. Making some 3s would help. American is now 9th-worst in the country, shooting 28% from beyond the arc. The Eagles have rarely been a great 3-point shooting team, but this is by far the worst of the KenPom era:
Worst 3-point shooting percentages for American since 2002:
Sa'eed Nelson is a main culprit — 14-60 (23%).
8. Loyola (2-3): The Greyhounds are giving Holy Cross a run for most inconsistent team, with bad losses to Army and Navy since that shocker at Lehigh. Loyola has become incredibly predictable offensively and reliant on Jarred Jones (18ppg in league play) and Andre Walker (16.8), who account for 31.2% and 30.5%, respectively, of the Greyhounds' shots when they're on the floor. Neither having an EFG% above 50% doesn't help.
9. Colgate (2-4): Maybe the American game wasn't an outlier — for some reason, both Colgate and its opponents are shooting atrociously from the line in league games (Colgate 61.0%, opponents 59.3%).
10. Lafayette (2-4): The Leopards are wasting Matt Klinewski's offensive production (21.8 ppg in league games, second behind Kempton) because of awful defense. Lafayette's defense per 100 possessions (114) is one of the 15 worst in the country. However, this isn't the Leopards' worst in recent history. In 2014, it was 115.1 and even in 2015, when Lafayette won the Patriot League tournament, it was an abysmal 113.0.