Men’s Basketball: Patriot League Power Rankings – Preseason

By: Hannah Yoshinaga and Ethan Fuller

Featured image courtesy of Colgate Athletics.

Patriot League play is only a few days away, and the hierarchy of teams in the conference isn’t nearly as concrete as some may have expected only a few months ago. After losing almost half of their scoring from last season, Bucknell looks far removed from a fourth straight trip to the Patriot League Championship game. Preseason favorite Colgate has been solid but unspectacular, opening the door for Lafayette and Loyola Maryland to insert themselves into the championship conversation. 

In this preseason edition of the Patriot League Men’s Basketball Power Rankings, we’re taking a look at how each team played in their non-conference matchups and how they project to do in conference play. 

WTBU’s Ethan Fuller and Hannah Yoshinaga evaluated the teams’ performances and contributed the following rankings. 

 

1. Colgate University (9-4)

The Raiders did what they needed to during nonconference play. Colgate took down all but one mid-major foe, but a somewhat bizarre overtime loss to 2-9 Niagara University does not look great. However, they offset that defeat with a big-time win over Cincinnati, and their only other losses come against high-majors in Clemson, Syracuse and eighth-ranked Auburn. Jordan Burns has been rock-solid for the Raiders, averaging 15.7 points per game with decent efficiency, and should remain the leading contender for Patriot League Player of the Year. Overall, Colgate did not wow anyone with their start to the season, but performed as expected of the early conference favorite. — Ethan Fuller

This week: January 2 vs. American, January 5 at Army 

2. Lafayette College (8-3)

Lafayette slotted in eighth in the Patriot League’s preseason poll, but so far the program is silencing doubters. The Leopards have won six of their last seven contests and boast a high-flying offensive attack. Junior guard Justin Jaworski is averaging a team-high 19.2 points per game while making 48.6 percent of his total shots and 41.7 percent of his threes. He leads a devastating perimeter assault; Lafayette as a whole is shooting 39.1 percent from deep — good for 18th in all of Division I basketball. If they can keep it up in conference, the Leopards could really raise some eyebrows. — Ethan Fuller

This week: January 2 at BU, January 5 vs. Bucknell 

3. Loyola University Maryland (8-5)

Loyola has slowly been making a case to be considered one of the best teams in the Patriot League, although they ended their non-conference schedule with a tough blowout loss to VCU. They are solid on offense, where they can offset their unexceptional three-point shooting with their dominance on the glass. Defense is even more of a strength for the Greyhounds, where they steal the ball and block shots regularly. Their only real struggles on defense this season came against Marquette and VCU — two teams who are perennial tournament contenders. — Hannah Yoshinaga 

This week: January 2 vs. Holy Cross, January 5 at Lehigh 

4. Naval Academy (6-5)

Though Navy holds a middling record, their play warrants more praise. The program’s defense is suffocating — no opponent has scored more than 65 points against the Midshipmen, and their opponents’ offensive rating of 60.7 is second-best in the nation. They also played Virginia and Liberty, two near-ranked teams, quite close. While defense will continue as the calling card during conference play, Navy’s offense needs to improve for the team to join the upper tier. A 40 percent team field goal clip will not cut it for a conference contender. — Ethan Fuller

This week: January 2 vs. Lehigh, January 5 at Holy Cross 

5. Boston University (6-7)

The 2019 portion of the season was a roller coaster for the Terriers. They scored one of the biggest wins in recent school history by upsetting South Carolina on the road, but followed it up with a five-game skid. However, the current three-game winning streak has things looking up. BU has played a lot of close contests; six of their games have been decided by five points or less, with the Terriers going 2-4 in those matchups. If they can lock in during clutch situations — which they have done as of late — BU should be able to make some noise with their diverse array of scoring threats. — Ethan Fuller

This week: January 2 vs. Lafayette, January 5 at American 

6. Army West Point (5-6)

Army has the fifth-best road record in the Patriot League. That should bode well for them in conference matchups — particularly in their first contest at Bucknell on Thursday. On offense, the Black Knights are some of the most efficient inside scorers in the conference as judged by their shoot 56 percent inside the arc. They need to keep scoring at that pace in because their defense has been mediocre all season, allowing 73 points per game on 43% shooting to opponents. — Hannah Yoshinaga

This week: January 2 at Bucknell, January 6 vs. Colgate 

7. American University (4-7)

American boasts one of the better offenses in the conference; they’ve reached the 80-point mark in four games this season. There are several highly efficient scorers on the roster that help the Eagles shoot 46 percent from the field as a team. How well they do in Patriot League play will be largely determined by how well they are able to execute on defense, where they don’t pose much of a threat to opposing shooters. — Hannah Yoshinaga

This week: January 2 at Colgate, January 5 vs. BU 

8. Lehigh University (3-9)

Lehigh wasn’t gifted the easiest non-conference slate, with games against Virginia Tech, Saint Mary’s, and Auburn contributing to their unimpressive 3-9 record. Guard Jordan Cohen and center James Karnik are the reasons that the team hasn’t completely floundered. Both players are two-way threats capable of putting up big performances against elite defenses. However, if other Patriot League teams are able to shut Cohen and Karnik down, the rest of Lehigh’s roster may not be able to match their production. — Hannah Yoshinaga

This week: January 2 at Navy, January 5 vs. Loyola MD  

9. Bucknell University (4-9)

Conference play means a clean slate for the Bison, who have disappointed thus far after ranking second in the Patriot League preseason poll. Bucknell has lost five of its last six games and is just 1-6 on the road. More importantly, the departure of Nate Sestina, who transferred to Kentucky, has dealt a significant blow to the team’s defense. They gave up over 78 points per game in non-conference — good for 331st in the country. The Bison need a dramatic shift in their defensive approach to get back on track. — Ethan Fuller

This week: January 2 vs. Army, January 5 at Lafayette 

10. Holy Cross (1-12)

This season can’t get any worse for the Crusaders, who have one of the worst records in all of Division I basketball. They are disjunct on both ends of the floor, although their lackluster offense pales in comparison to their abysmal defense. They’ve still failed to limit an opponent to fewer than 68 points. Their best players are freshmen Joe Pridgen and Drew Lowder, and while they have time to develop into more well-rounded players in future years, their lack of college-level experience has cost the team this year. — Hannah Yoshinaga

This week: January 2 at Loyola MD, January 5 vs. Navy

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