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 (9-7, 4-0): The Terriers are on fire as they prepare to welcome American to town Wednesday. BU tied a Patriot League record with 18 3's Sunday vs. Lafayette, have shot 42% from downtown in league play (boosting their season average up to 36%), and most impressively have won their PL games by margins of 6, 14, 18 and 16.
2. Bucknell (12-5, 4-0): Perhaps most impressive about the Bison's perfect start in league play is that they're doing it without the 3-point shot (Chris Hass who?). The Bison are 10th in conference play in perimeter shooting (30.9%) and have made 3, 5, 6 and 7 in their four wins. Bucknell is shooting 56.7% on twos, and the lethal combination of guys who can score in the post (Nana Foulland, Zach Thomas) and can score off the drive (Kimbal Mackenzie, Stephen Brown) is dethroning opponents.
Name FG% at rim FTA/FGA
Foulland 77.3% 61.5%
Thomas 57.6% 54.2%
Mackenzie 61.1% 50.4%
Brown 50% 37.1%
3. Lehigh (8-7, 2-2): It's still hard to believe this Lehigh team blew a double-digit second half lead at home to Loyola, including up 10 in the final three minutes. Especially a team with Tim Kempton, who scored a career-high 36 points on 11-17 shooting to go with 11 rebounds against American Sunday. The Mountain Hawks should never struggle offensively, but their defense has been underwhelming through four games, allowing teams to shoot 38.9% from 3 (normally cold Loyola was 11-22) and generally not providing a lot of resistance.
Outside of Kempton, the Mountain Hawks have no interior defensive presence — thus their ninth-best block percentage in league play — and as any American fan saw Sunday afternoon, Sa'eed Nelson was able to beat the Mountain Hawks' guards off the dribble time after time.
4. Holy Cross (8-9, 2-2): Give the Crusaders this — they're beating the teams they should take care of (although Navy, barely). Holy Cross' two losses are against the best teams, so it's hard to be too critical of the Crusaders. Still, the offense is dreadful:
93.2 ORE (9th)
46.5 Effective FG% (10th)
20.1 Offensive Reb % (9th)
29.4 FTA/FGA (8th)
40.4 2p% (10th)
The Crusaders are shooting 45.5% of their field goals in league play from deep, converting at a 35.9% clip. When a team defends the arc like Bucknell did Sunday — allowing just 13 attempts — Holy Cross really struggles to score, going 15-for-35 on 2s (brutal!). It's pretty telling that of the Crusaders to attempt 50 or more two-point field goals, only two led by Patrick Benzan (54%) — who happened to drive the length of the court for the game-winning layup vs. Navy last week — shoot a percentage on 2s better than the national average of 48.
5. Loyola (8-7, 2-2): How is Loyola operating at the fourth-best offensive efficiency in the league despite shooting just 48% on twos and 32% on threes? They're rebounding like crazy. The super athletic Greyhounds are boarding 32.8% of their misses. Additionally, Loyola is getting to the line at a decent clip (33.3 FTA/FGA) and converting a league-best 78% percent of its freebies.
Still, this team is as up and down as they come. How else to explain the road win at Lehigh but losses to Lafayette (at home!) and Army?
6. Army (7-9, 1-3): The Black Knights have a bright future with the way underclassmen are performing. There's 6-foot-9 Matt Wilson, who's shooting 68% (74-108) on 2s and takes 26% of Army's shots when he's on the floor. And less talked about is 6-foot Tommy Funk, whose assist rate of 24% is ninth in the league and two spots behind his sophomore teammate Jordan Fox (28.4%).
7. American (4-11, 1-3): Freshman Sa'eed Nelson is now second in the country in minutes per game at 38.3. Nelson has played the maximum minutes in nine games now (including 45 in the Eagles' overtime win at Colgate) and played 39 against Bucknell. The biggest area that needs improvement now is the free-throw line, where Nelson is shooting 59% overall and 51% (16-31) in league play. Nelson has the ninth-highest FTA/FGA (52.1%) in the conference. Shooting better from the line will go a long way toward helping the Eagles climb in the league.
8. Lafayette (6-9, 2-2): Matt Klinewski became the first Lafayette player in the school's Patriot League era (1990-present) to score 30-plus points three times in the same season. And it's early January. What's most impressive about Klinewski's historic scoring for the Leopards is that he's doing it without the 3-point shot (0-1 on the season).
Matt Klinewski (17.9ppg, 6.1rpg)
107-192 on 2s (55%)
45-62 on FTS (72%)
9. Navy (6-10, 1-3): I have to put Navy ahead of Colgate after the Midshipmen dethroned the Raiders Sunday. And really, Navy should be 3-1. Navy gave away a late lead vs. Bucknell, missing several free throws (9-18, 2-8 by Shawn Anderson — sound familiar?), and then watched Benzan drive the length of the court for another heartbreaker.
Navy would effectively have no offense if not for the boards, where its 39.7 ORB% is tops in the league. Of course, the Midshipmen often don't allow themselves to put a shot up by turning the ball over on a league-high 29.7% of their possessions (where's Tilman Dunbar when you need him?). Bottom line — play Navy, and it's bound to be ugly basketball.
10. Colgate (3-14, 1-3): Since putting up 34 points against Lafayette's league-worst defense in the Patriot League opener (a win for Colgate), freshman Will Rayman has come back down to earth in three losses with teams focusing their defensive attention on him and teammates struggling:
vs. American: 6-17, 15 pts
vs. Holy Cross: 5-10, 16 pts
vs. Navy: 4-13, 12 pts