As we hit the stretch run of the regular season, the top teams are still jockeying for the highest playoff seeds. Lafayette has cooled off, opening the door for BU to become the Patriot League’s hottest team. The Terriers have won six straight, including four games against top-four teams. The Terriers and Leopards, whose matchups often aren’t decided until the final seconds, will face off in Boston on Wednesday.
For this edition of the Power Rankings, Ethan Fuller and Hannah Yoshinaga combed through the stat sheets to find some numbers worth talking about.
1. Bucknell University (18-6, 11-2 PL)
Previous ranking: 1
Stat to know: 53.4 opponent points per game
Bucknell receives a lot of attention for its offense, but often does not get the same amount of recognition for its stifling defense. The Bison block shots, force opposing shooters into bad looks, and grab their rebounds every time. If they have a vulnerability, it is their perimeter defense, but it is only a minor weakness in a strong overall defensive system.
This week: February 22 vs. Lehigh
2. Boston University (14-10, 9-4 PL)
Previous ranking: 4
Stat to know: +5.0 rebounding margin (in conference)
The Terriers are flying high, winners of their last six games through suffocating defense and a big stretch of shooting from Maggie Pina. But BU also has developed a reputation for being ferocious inside. Freshman Maren Durant has moved into the starting lineup and become a force on the glass (7.8 rebounds per game) alongside sophomore Riley Childs (7.7). Joining them are Katie Nelson and Nia Irving at 3.7 boards apiece.
This week: February 19 vs. Lafayette, February 22 at American
3. Colgate University (17-7, 9-4 PL)
Previous ranking: 3
Stat to know: 17.8 assists per game (in conference)
The Raiders move the ball with stunning frequency; their 17.8 assists per contest are over four assists more than second-place Holy Cross. Colgate’s passing ability helps fuel their league-best offense. Leading the charge is PL Player of the Year candidate Rachel Thompson, whose 4.6 assists per game are tied for the most in the conference.
This week: February 19 at Lehigh, February 22 at Holy Cross
4. College of the Holy Cross (15-9, 8-5 PL)
Previous ranking: 5
Stat to know: +5.3 rebounding margin
Lauren Manis and Megan Swords provide enough authority in the frontcourt to outmuscle any opponent for rebounds. On offense, it will be difficult for any team to slow them down in the post and limit Holy Cross’ .370 three-point shooting at the same time. On the defensive end, the Crusaders will have a major size advantage on the glass over just about any opponent.
This week: February 22 vs. Colgate
5. Lafayette College (12-11, 8-5 PL)
Previous ranking: 2
Stat to know: 4.6 blocks per game; 3.0 Kucowski blocks per game (in conference)
How critical is Natalie Kucowski as a defensive presence for the Leopards? The junior accounts for nearly two thirds of her team’s blocked shots. Lafayette sits at the top of the conference in blocks, but take away Kucowski and they tumble to ninth. Not only does the All-PL contender control the team’s offense and the glass; she also sets the tone defensively.
This week: February 19 at BU, February 22 at Loyola MD
6. Lehigh University (16-8, 8-5 PL)
Previous ranking: 6
Stat to know: 12.8 offensive rebounds per game
Similar to Holy Cross, Lehigh can really make its opponents feel their presence on the offensive glass. The Mountain Hawks’ ability to give themselves plenty of second chances has helped them to build the third-best offense in the Patriot League despite not having a ton of consistent shooters on the roster.
This week: February 19 vs. Colgate, February 22 at Bucknell
7. Loyola University Maryland (7-17, 4-9 PL)
Previous ranking: 8
Stat to know: 10.6 steals per game
Credit the Greyhounds for always putting in effort even when the final score does not go their way. Loyola has the second-worst offense in the league, but the Greyhounds sure do love to produce steals whenever possible. Stephanie Karcz is a steal machine; she has racked up 130 steals in 24 games.
This week: February 19 at Army, February 22 vs. Lafayette
8. American University (9-14, 5-8 PL)
Previous ranking: 7
Stat to know: 28.2 points per game from Marenyi and Edwards (in conference)
The Eagles’ scoring is dependent on the successes of Kaitlin Marenyi and Jade Edwards. The two combine to put up nearly half of American’s 58.2 points per game and are far and away the top two scorers on the team. In fact, they are the only two Eagles averaging more than seven points per game.
This week: February 19 at Navy, February 22 vs. BU
9. Naval Academy (7-17, 2-11 PL)
Previous ranking: 10
Stat to know: -5.5 rebounding margin (in conference)
Navy and Army flip-flop as bottom-feeders in the conference, but neither has much going for them. Navy’s league-worst rebounding differential hurt the team in a bad loss to BU where no player corralled more than five boards. Just one Mid ranks in the conference’s top 20 in rebounds: Morgan Taylor, at 5.7 per game.
This week: February 19 vs. American, February 22 at Army
10. Army West Point (5-19, 1-12 PL)
Previous ranking: 9
Stat to know: 72.9 opponent points per game
Army is allowing almost 10 more points per game than any other team in the conference. The Black Knights do a decent job of guarding three-pointers, but they struggle to get stops closer to the hoop. They also have difficulty controlling the boards; they record 37.9 rebounds per game, but allow opponents to secure 40.
This week: February 19 vs. Loyola MD, February 22 vs. Navy