I freely admit that my knowledge of Patriot League Basketball this season is limited at best. I have attended all of three Navy home games at Alumni Hall, and instead of watching which way the ball was bouncing I was chasing my three-year-old daughter, Delaney, around the concourse. She had never been to a Navy basketball game before…actually she had never been to any basketball game before, so I knew it was going to be all about her and very little about the actual game.
However, I have to admit that once Navy started winning I threw myself onto the bandwagon and started to pay attention. Like any good fan, I had written off the Mids after their 16 point loss to Robert. Morris on November 14. Robert Morris? Who were they? Turns out, if I was doing any research, I would have found out that the Colonials were a pretty good team. They are currently 25-6 and poised for an invite to the NCAA tournament.
After losing to Robert Morris, it continued to take awhile for the Mids awhile to right the ship. After losing 86-76 on December 17 to San Diego State (currently 19-10), Navy was 3-8 and going nowhere fast. However, they won their next four games, albeit against four teams with a current combined record of 19-100. But wins are wins and confidence means something - especially going into league play.
Now, fourteen games and nine wins later, number two-seeded Navy will take on number seven-seeded Bucknell in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game when the seeds were reversed. In that game, Bucknell limited Navy to 16 points in the first half en route to an easy 62-43 victory. Can Navy get its revenge? And if they advance, who will they play?
Even though I have already admitted my limited knowledge of Patriot League Basketball, I figured if I could accurately predict the winners of the first round games, I’d immediately get all of my credibility back as a senior writer of GoMids.com. So here goes nothing!
#5 Army (13-15, 6-8) at #4 Lehigh (14-14, 7-7)
Lehigh is 11-3 in the friendly confines of Stabler Arena but Army did manage to beat the Mountain Hawks there in the first round of last year’s tournament, 47-46. It was the first time Army won a quarterfinal game since 1996. This season, Lehigh has beaten Army both times, but neither victory came easy as the Black Knights only lost by five points each time. I don’t think this game will be that close. Prediction: Lehigh 61, Army 51.
#6 Lafayette (15-14, 6-8) at #3 Colgate (16-13, 7-7)
Colgate is the hottest team in the league having won its last four games. Lafayette, on the other hand is struggling having lost eight of its last ten games after beginning conference play with four straight victories. The teams split one-point victories with the road team winning each time. I expect Colgate to have the easiest time in the first round as they cruise to victory. Prediction: Colgate 78, Lafayette 61.
#8 Holy Cross (15-13, 5-9) at #1 American (18-11, 10-4)
In the last five years, the number one seed in the Patriot League Tournament is 5-0 and has won by an average of 19 points. If prior to the season someone said that these two teams would meet in the first round, most would have expected another blowout. In this crazy season, it would be silly not to pick at least one upset in the quarterfinals, so I’ll do it here. Prediction: Holy Cross 65, American 62.
#7 Bucknell (11-18, 6-8) at #2 Navy (16-13, 9-5)
Against Colgate last Saturday, Navy only shot 6-33 from three-point range but somehow managed to keep the game close until the last two minutes. They will need to hit on more than 30% of three’s to keep advancing in the tournament. Bucknell, on the other hand, will hope for a balanced attack against the Mids. I think Navy will struggle early but prevail in the end. Prediction: Navy 79, Bucknell 72.