Women’s Basketball: Patriot League Power Rankings — Postseason

Featured image courtesy of the Patriot League.

The Patriot League is onto the playoffs! In our final week of the Patriot League Power Rankings, Ethan Fuller and Hannah Yoshinaga break down the state of each team ahead of postseason play. They look at the playoff floors and ceilings of each squad and note the All-Patriot League selections (note: this article was written in advance but published after the first round of the Patriot League playoffs).

Bucknell has taken command of the league and is the clear title favorite, but Boston University leads a cluster of teams with lofty aspirations. Outside of Bucknell, who feels like a safe bet to go far, anything is possible. Here’s where the conference stands:

1. Bucknell University (23-6, 16-2 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Ellie Mack (POY, All-PL First Team), Trevor Woodruff (COY), Abby Kapp (All-PL Second Team), Tessa Brugler (All-PL Third Team)

Playoff Floor: Semifinals

Playoff Ceiling: Championship

It’s championship or bust for Patriot League-leading Bucknell. The Bison ran over several of their conference opponents by virtue of their stifling defense, which they will rely on in the playoffs. Although they did not have any All-Defensive team selections, the Bison allowed opponents to shoot only 36.3 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from deep.

On the other hand, Bucknell’s offense is not always at the same level as its defense. Ellie Mack is a walking bucket, but the performance of the players surrounding her will have the biggest impact on how far the Bison can go. Bucknell’s offense is also more reliant on threes than many of their conference opponents’, which could spell trouble if their shots aren’t falling in a close postseason game. — Hannah Yoshinaga

2. Boston University (17-12, 12-6 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Maggie Pina (ROY, All-PL Third Team, All-PL Rookie Team), Katie Nelson (All-PL Second Team), Maren Durant (All-PL Defensive Team, All-PL Rookie Team), Sydney Johnson (All-PL Rookie Team)

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Championship

The Terriers are in a zone right now. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games, with the two losses coming by a combined three points. Maggie Pina is finding more ways to score, Katie Nelson is as steady as ever, and the bench has grown deeper with Annabelle Larnard’s return and Liz Shean making a statement against Lehigh.

BU is the clear frontrunner to face Bucknell in the title bout, but the team still has some red flags. Eight of their last 11 games have been decided by six points or less. While BU is 6-2 in those contests, the narrow margin for error means they have to remain laser-focused in crunch time. — Ethan Fuller

3. College of the Holy Cross (18-11, 11-7 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Lauren Manis (All-PL First Team, All-PL Defensive Team), Avery LaBarbera (All-PL Second Team)

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Semifinals

The Crusaders have been up and down, but Lauren Manis was a rock all season long. Manis had a legitimate case to be the Patriot League Player of the Year, and her ability to guard multiple positions and stretch the floor on offense made Holy Cross dynamic on both ends of the court. Manis and Megan Swords also propelled the Crusaders to the best rebounding mark in the conference, which further solidified their defense.

While the Crusaders’ record is impressive, they have picked up only a handful of wins over teams with a record above .500. Thankfully for Holy Cross, one of those wins came against Lafayette, who they will face in the quarterfinals. However, if they advance to the semifinals, they might not have the talent level to match any other opponents. — Hannah Yoshinaga

4. Colgate University (19-10, 11-7 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Rachel Thompson (All-PL First Team, All-PL Defensive Team), Abby Schubiger (All-PL Third Team), Alexa Brodie (All-PL Rookie Team)

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Finals

A strong Colgate team has floundered recently. The Raiders lost three straight behind shabby defense, allowing 76, 81 and 86 points to close out the season. Included in the skid is a home loss to Lehigh, which will have a serious chance to repeat itself in the quarterfinals.

Still, Colgate has Rachel Thompson, Abby Schubiger and a bunch of solid role-players. The team might not have the consistency to make a championship run, but they could certainly avenge Lehigh and then take down a Terrier team they’ve played close twice. — Ethan Fuller

5. Lehigh University (18-11, 10-8 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Camryn Buhr (All-PL Second Team)

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Finals

The Mountain Hawks’ defense is a critically overlooked part of their game. Several players on Lehigh’s roster have the length and agility to disrupt lanes and deflect passes, and they don’t cough up offensive rebounds very often. Their defense in and of itself is finals-worthy.

Yet defense is typically not the source of the problem when the Mountain Hawks come up empty-handed. Lehigh failed to break the 60-point mark in nearly half its games and struggled to get going against some of the better defenses in the conference. Colgate, who the Mountain Hawks face in the quarterfinals, has been on a slide as of late, but its defense has the potential to get in Lehigh’s way. — Hannah Yoshinaga

6. Lafayette College (15-13, 11-7 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Natalie Kucowski (All-PL First Team, All-PL Defensive Team) 

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Semifinals

The theme for Lafayette is the same theme of the regular season: how far can Natalie Kucowski take this team? The Leopards have played well recently, albeit losing their last contest to Bucknell, but the team’s hopes rest on the star junior.

Unfortunately for the Leopards, they have two tough tests on their side of the bracket. Lafayette went 0-4 against presumptive opponents Holy Cross and Bucknell. The chances of them bucking the trend in consecutive games seems extremely slim. — Ethan Fuller

7. American University (12-16, 8-10 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Jade Edwards (All-PL Second Team), Indeya Sanders (All-PL Defensive Team)

Playoff Floor: Quarterfinals

Playoff Ceiling: Semifinals

The Eagles are, in all honesty, an extremely average squad. They’ve taken care of business against the league’s bottom feeders and stolen some upset wins, but never put enough consistency together to merit consideration as a contender.

However, they recently took down Boston University at home and drew an easy first round matchup against Navy. If American can keep together a defense that is quietly hitting its stride, they could potentially stir the playoff pot with an upset against BU. — Ethan Fuller

8. Loyola University Maryland (8-21, 5-13 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Stephanie Karcz (DPOY, All-PL First Team, All-PL Defensive Team), Emily McAteer (All-PL Rookie Team)

Playoff Floor: First round

Playoff Ceiling: Semifinals

Don’t be fooled by Loyola’s unremarkable conference record — the Greyhounds have enough raw potential on defense to present a problem to several conference opponents. Their defensive is spearheaded by leading lady Stephanie Karcz, who led NCAA Division I in steals and steals per game.

There isn’t much happening on the other end of the floor for the Greyhounds though. Loyola ranked a pedestrian sixth in offense amongst all Patriot League teams and would be considered efficient by no stretch of the imagination. The Greyhounds’ lack of three-point shooting is especially troubling. — Hannah Yoshinaga

9. Army (8-21, 4-14 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Alisa Fallon (All-PL Third Team), Hope Brown (All-PL Rookie Team)

Playoff Floor: First round

Playoff Ceiling: Quarterfinals

Army spent most of the regular season looking like it was competing against Navy for last place, but the Black Knights showed that they still had some fight left in them in their last few games. In their last three contests, Army had two close losses to BU and Holy Cross and trounced Colgate at home.

Despite their recent hot streak, it is still difficult to imagine Army making much noise in the playoffs. They can shoot threes, but they do not provide much pop from anywhere else on the court. Their defense is even more of a sticking point; they can range anywhere from solid to absolutely atrocious at any given moment. — Hannah Yoshinaga

10. Navy (7-22, 2-16 PL)

All-Patriot League honors: Mary Kate Ulasewicz (All-PL Third Team), Morgan Taylor (All-PL Defensive Team)

Playoff Floor: First round

Playoff Ceiling: First round

There’s not much to hope for if you’re the Mids. Navy won both of its regular season games in a three-day span and looked putrid otherwise. They have flashes of future talent in freshmen Nyah Garrison, Mimi Schrader and others, but Mary Kate Ulasewicz has been given too little playoff-ready help.

It would frankly be a shock for the Mids to win any game in the postseason, much less make a run. Navy fans should be looking to the future. — Ethan Fuller

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