It's hard to believe that one week from now we'll be dissecting the Patriot League Tournament bracket. This conference season has flown by. With just two games left, here's our final edition of Patriot League Power Rankings. As always, feedback is welcomed! Tweet at us at @auhoopspodcast.
1. Bucknell (14-2, +16.9 adj EM)
I still can't believe Bucknell's incredible comeback a week ago vs. Colgate. The Bison were down eight with 33 seconds left and somehow pulled one out of a bag. Lost amidst the frenzy, however, is that the team we've penciled in for the Patriot League title is vulnerable. Lehigh took Bucknell out in overtime the previous Monday; Colgate should've won that game; and Holy Cross also took the Bison to overtime Saturday three days after Bucknell decimated listless Loyola for the league title . Bucknell, for all its fire power, is third in the league in points per 100 possessions (107.9).
2. Navy (10-6, +5.2 adj EM)
Why could Navy be the league's second best team? One word: experience. This is a team full of guys who have been there, including Shawn Anderson. The senior (14.5ppg) became the first Mid to accumulate 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 300 assists in a career. The Mids' 2.11 experience metric (Kenpom) is 58th nationally and their top five are all upperclassmen. What's more, Navy isn't relying on the 3 like other teams, taking just 36% of their FGAs from deep. We'll find out a lot more about this team Wednesday at Bucknell on Senior Night.
3. Colgate (10-6, +3.5 adj EM)
The Raiders don't do anything special, but they take great care of the ball (PL-best TO rate of 16.1%) and have a balanced attack that has proven tough for opponents to stymie. They also make their free throws, with just one rotation player below 70%. All of this makes the collapse at Bucknell even that much more unbelievable.
4. Lehigh (9-7, 1.7 +adj EM)
Go ahead and find me a hotter team in the league. Try. Lehigh has won six in a row, including a 84-53 pasting of reeling Army on Saturday. The Mountain Hawks boast the best offense in the league despite not getting to the free-throw line (league-worst 26.% FTA/FGA) and shooting a league-worst 46.2% on 2s. It doesn't matter. This is such a good shooting team, the Mountain Hawks are still scoring 108.2 points per 100 possessions. Believe me when I say Bucknell does not want another taste of Lehigh in the PL tourney. They've got three of the 10 best 3-point shooters in the league (so does Lafayette, by the way).
5. Lafayette (7-9, +2.1 adj EM)
The Patriot League rookie of the year is going to come down to Alex Petrie and American's Sam Iorio. They went head-to-head Saturday and made for thrilling theater. The case for Petrie revolves around an overachieving, fun Leopards offense. Petrie has greatly increased the team's ability to score in many ways with his slashing and scoring in the lane. Petrie hasn't scored fewer than 14 points in a Patriot League game and has scored from all three areas (2s, 3s, the FT line) in all but four games. With Petrie, Justin Jaworski, and E.J. Stephens contributing as freshmen, the Leopards have a bright future even as Matt Klinewski moves on.
6. Boston (8-8, -0.3 adj EM)
Here we begin with the teams that are free-falling, and the most surprising in the group is Boston, which has dropped five in a row and six of seven. The Terriers have broken 62 points just once during the period and are not getting the production across the board which made them so tough during the early portion of the conference schedule. Losing Walter Whyte to injury hasn't helped, and against American on Wednesday the only player who scared the Eagles was Max Mahoney. This feels like a team stuck in the mud and heading very much in the wrong direction at the wrong time.
7. Holy Cross (7-9, -4.5 adj EM)
No team seemingly faces more controversy and harsher critics than the Crusaders, who suspended three players — including Karl Charles — and yet still nearly knocked off Bucknell Saturday. Jehyve Floyd has locked up PL defensive player of the year, and I think there's a strong case for him being a first-team player who has led Holy Cross to wins in six of its last 10 with two losses to Bucknell, a loss to Navy and a loss to Lehigh. In other words, the Floyd-led Crusaders are a top-half-of-the-conference team despite being horrific from 3 (29.1%), getting no offensive boards (18.7%) and having the 337th youngest team in Division 1. Floyd has 36 blocks over the last 10 games, including six games with four or more rejections. That's scary.
8. Army (6-10, -6.7 adj EM)
The Black Knights are flailing, having lost four in a row and seven of eight. Defensively, allowing teams to get to the free-throw line (32.8 FTA/FGA) and shoot the 3 well (38.4%) isn't a recipe for getting wins.
9. Loyola (6-10, -10.0 adj EM)
The Greyhounds are a mess, which is sad for a team with seniors this league will miss. There's been no Andre Walker magic of late for a team that's dropped five of six by inexcusable margins:
Loyola recent losing margins: 9, 16, 17, 41, 21.
10. American (3-13, -9.0 adj EM)
His team has four fewer wins than Petrie's and he has had four off games offensively in league play, but Sam Iorio has done it all for the shorthanded Eagles, especially of late. The freshman is near the top in the Patriot League in scoring (17.6ppg, 5th), rebounding (7.6rpg, 3rd), and minutes played (35.5mpg, 3rd). That's one thing. He's also doing all these things efficiently. Iorio's O-rating of 114 is fourth among players who have used at least 20% of their possessions. His e-FG% of 58.3% is ninth. He is shooting 43.7% from 3 (seventh-best and just behind Petrie's 43.9%) and his defensive rebounding rate of 19.6% is sixth best in the league. Stats-wise, Iorio is the best freshman in the conference, but Petrie's got the four extra wins.