By Kenny Van Doren
Among the smaller mid-majors, the Patriot League is home to smaller named schools not known to the average collegiate basketball fan. While housing Navy, Colgate, Lafayette, Army, American, Bucknell, Boston U, Holy Cross, Loyola MD and Lehigh (listed in order of standings), the Patriot will only send one team to the tournament like many other conference, but it won’t be as much as a toss up or close finish like the CAA.
While being a tough knit conference near the top, Navy and Colgate lead the pack with the best odds to make it into March Madness, but teams like Lafayette and Army look to be the only other two with the ability to make noise. Only three of the ten teams have a winning record in conference and only four have a winning record overall. It is a very lopsided group of ballers battling it out for a trip to Indiana.
Although being ranked second in the conference, the Colgate Raiders are the team to beat in this tournament. As they stand 11-1 overall and in conference, they have stood the test against every team in the Patriot. Their only loss came to Army on Jan. 3, the day after they blew out the Black Knights 101-57. With the season starting in 2021, this team didn’t have much time to ramp up, but they only lost to Army by two points in their second meeting in two days and didn’t have any close matchups after that. While having the Patriot League Player of the Year in Jordan Burns, this team looks unstoppable with their loaded, experienced players on both ends of the floor.
While there are really only four teams in true contention, the sleeper would have to be the Lafayette Leopards, who stand at 9-5 in conference play. With most games being back-to-back for all teams this season, the Leopards were gassed in matchups, but this won’t be seen as a major issue looking at this tournament. The only issue is they haven’t played the top two teams at all in 2021 in Navy and Colgate. There isn’t much to dissect about the possible sleeper picks as they all look to be on the same level of playing as they split series.
The player to watch is obviously Colgate Raider Jordan Burns. As one of the most clutch players in the Patriot, Burns doesn’t see any issues with fouls or turnovers, which makes him even more valuable. While averaging 17.1 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game, he does take a lot of shots which has decreased his fielding percentage. His defensive reliability outweighs this though, as he guarantees two steals a game. The Patriot Player of the Year will look to be the leading scorer once again, while having three other teammates in double figures.
Edited by Emma Moloney