By: Greg Levinsky
Plenty of parity was envisioned in this year’s men’s side of Patriot League basketball. Each team is vulnerable to one another, and no squad has truly separated itself from the pack. We’re just about half way through league play, and I will provide my power rankings to this point. All stats referenced will be conference only.
1. Bucknell (12-8, 6-2 Patriot League)
As much as I want to say I’m surprised the Bison appear poised to be the league favorites, I can’t. Nathan Davis is a tremendous coach, no matter how much I tried to play them down in my preseason power rankings. Nate Sestina (16.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG) has quite literally burst onto the scene in his senior campaign after spending his first three seasons as a bench player. Classmate Kimbal Mackenzie (15.7 PPG) and Bruce Moore (10.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG) are having fine seasons, and the Bison have even more weapons. After graduating three of the league’s top five players, the Bison are in a position to have a shot at taking the league again. While they’re much more vulnerable than in years past, they are the most complete team in the league.
2. Lehigh (13-6, 6-2)
The Mountain Hawks have the league’s top scoring offense, but also the second worst defense. Their up tempo style has led to plenty of shootouts, with Lehigh coming out on top more often than not. Their losses are to Bucknell, by just two points, and a 13 point defeat to Colgate. Pat Andree (14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, .468 3FG%) is having a sensational junior year, and is one of four Mountain Hawks shooting at least 45 percent from down town on at least 2.5 attempts per game. The guard trio of Kyle Leufroy (14.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG), Lance Tejada (14.3 PPG, 3.8 APG) and Jordan Cohen (12.3 PPG, 3.8 APG) is the real deal.
I hope this story makes you value life and reminds you how important you are. And if you aren’t ok, that is ok, too. That is Lance Tejada’s hope & reason for being vulnerable and courageous to share his story. Thank you Lance for giving me the opportunity to do that❤️@LehighMBB https://t.co/mxmpeQxaLM
— Morgan Uber (@Morgan_Uber) January 25, 2019
3. Colgate (12-9, 4-4)
Commanding wins over Lehigh, Boston University and American negate close losses to Bucknell and Loyola. The Raiders have been extremely inconsistent thus far, but the trio of Jordan Burns (20 PPG, 8 APG, 4.3 RPG), Rapolas Ivanauskas (15.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG) and Will Rayman (11.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG) is arguably the league’s best. Depth is an issue as well, but different players have stepped up at times. Malcolm Regisford is an experienced senior and classmate Dana Batt provides some depth. Their front court is a tough guard, and Burns may be the best player in the league. They have the third ranked offense and defense in the league.
4. Army (11-10, 6-2)
Their Colgate win is impressive, but the Black Knights have played a weak portion of their league schedule. They’re ranked fourth in offense, defense and scoring margin. By numbers alone, fourth is an easy spot. Their two losses have been by a combined three points. They lost to Bucknell and have yet to play Lehigh. Are the Black Knights for real? Not sold just yet.
5. American (10-9, 4-4)
OK, maybe Burns isn’t the league’s best player. Sa’eed Nelson (22.6 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.9 RPG) probably is. The junior guard is the team’s entire offense, and sets up sophomore Sam Iorio (13.5 PPG 6.3 RPG) well. Classmate Stacy Beckton Jr. (12.3 PPG, .533 FG%) is the wild card. He’s extremely athletic and can make a difference on both ends of the floor. In the nicest way possible, he’s a pest to play against. I may be biased as American is the only team other than Boston University I’ve seen play twice in person, but I think the Eagles will move their way up these rankings by season’s end. They beat Bucknell by eight in their last game.
— Patriot League Network | PatriotLeague.tv (@PatriotLeagueTV) January 24, 2019
6. Loyola Maryland (8-13, 4-4)
I was wrong about this team. They’re much, much better than what I thought. Attribute that to junior Andrew Kostecka (20.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG. 2.5 APG) who has surpassed all expectations. Home wins over Army and Colgate are tremendous, but losses at Lafayette and Holy Cross are not.
7. Holy Cross (12-9, 3-5)
Jehyve Floyd’s senior year is one to remember, as the 6-foot-8 forward is putting up impressive numbers (16.5 PPG, 6.8 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 BPG, .757 FG%). The Crusaders just snapped a three-game skid leading up to a bout right here at Boston University. Wins over Navy, Lafayette and Loyola don’t show much. Another team with a lot of potential, but has not yet put it all together.
8. Boston University (9-12, 2-6)
Beating Navy gets them above the Mids even though BU’s record is worse. The Terriers have not been good. It’s a bit of a shock, but I would not have anticipated them finishing any worse than fifth in the league. There’s still time to turn it around, and junior Max Mahoney (17.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG) has stepped up. BU needs more from Tyler Scanlon (11.5 PPG) and especially Javante McCoy (11.3 PPG). At 6-foot-5 with plenty of skill and one of the league’s best pure athletes, there is no reason why McCoy has not had a 20 point game yet. If he can turn it around and everyone else plays to their potential, the Terriers have the chance to jump many spots in these rankings.
9. Navy (6-13, 3-5)
I feel like beating Colgate is more of a product of the Raiders’ inconsistencies than Navy’s talent. Seniors George Kiernan (14.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG) and Hasan Abdullah (11.8 PPG, 5.4 APG. 4.6 RPG) have been solid, but the Mids have the worst scoring margin in the conference. Their offense is plain stagnant, and their defense is mediocre.
Tomorrow: Navy physician
Meet Hasan Abdullah.
— NCAA (@NCAA) February 9, 2018
10. Lafayette (5-14, 2-6)
Their win over American was a darn good one. Getting swept by Army is tough. Sophomores Justin Jaworski (16.0 PPG) and Alex Petrie (14.6 PPG) make up a nice guard duo, but are not good enough to carry a team at this level.
There are so many teams that will change their position by the end of the season. I’m not convinced that Bucknell is really that good, and I’m certain Holy Cross and Boston University are better than they’ve been. It truly feels like there are between six and eight teams in this league that are impossible to separate. Come tournament time, this will be FUN.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky