One of my favorites.
30 conferences are all well into their season and one (IVY) decided not to play this season. The only one left is the Patriot League, who get started on Saturday. Now some teams have begun play (Army, Navy) but the rest get going this weekend.
Let me throw out some things you need to know...
The league will play an exclusive weekend schedule and back to backs. I know on most Saturdays, these games may be hidden to most but for some of us many of them are gems and must be respected.
The Favorite: Colgate: Matt Langel and Co have been the prohibitive favorite in this conference for a few years now but have only actually made it to the Big Dance once over the last 3 years. They have largely been overrated, but Bucknell and with seemingly no teams at their level I felt it important to go with them. Langel is a Philly guy and Fran Dunphy disciple, he prides his teams on 4 guard lineups and 1 big whose main job is to rebound and do the dirty work. For the Raiders, it's all about guard play. Jordan Burns is the preseason POY in the conference and back court mate Nelly Cummings is just as good. They both are terrific scorers but Colgate have 3-4 sharpshooters to kick to to knock down shots. Over the last two seasons this group has shot the 3 at 38 percent and welcome back 4 of their top 5 shooters. Defense is always a calling card of the Raiders as well. They led the conference last year in defensive efficiency. They have the best player and a really good group around him in revenge of not winning the conference last year. It's Colgate's tourney to lose.
Biggest contender to Colgate: Loyola Maryland: The alma mater of Jimmy McNulty! The Greyhounds on the surface I really like. Yes they did lose do it all guard Andrew Kostecka, but they return a solid group and bring back possibly the best player in the league in Santi Aldama. He came in the league late in the season only playing ten games but took the league by storm. He had double figures in 9 of them and over the last 3 games of the season dropped 61 on the heads of Navy and Lehigh 2x. The kid is good, he's big, spry and is just better than most big's you'll find in the Patriot. A lot of the time it's a man vs boys...
The Greyhounds will welcome back a really good guard in Isaiah Hart who becomes the defacto ball handler for them and a solid group of wings headlined by Kenneth Jones, a sharpshooter. One of the best things about Loyola is their adeptness at getting to the line. They not only have Aldama to pump it down to but a stable of kids that are great at creating offense and opportunities from the line. With a full year for Aldama the defense should be much better. Him alongside behemoth Golden Dike, it's gonna be tough to score on them. They are a real contender and it would be great to see them meet Colgate in the final.
Deep Sleeper: Lehigh: I couldn't not pick Brett Reed and the boys from the Valley. This team could be the most interesting in the league. They do lose wonderkid guard Jordan Cohen but retain a solid core led by Marques WIlson. They also welcome back big man Nic Lynch who should be able to contend with some of the good bigs in this league and give them a James Karnik/Pat Andree type of player that they've had in the past. Lehigh has a lot of potential and love the three ball. If they can find consistency from Wilson and Lynch becomes all they think he can be this team not only will cover some numbers but could be an outside sleeper to throw a wrench in come March. Keep an eye on freshman Jalin Sinclair, if he alongside Wilson become a Burns/Cummings type of tandem. Look out!
Betting Bullet points:
-Lafayette welcome back Justin Jaworski, a top 3 player in the league. The Leopards were 11-5 ATS last year as a dog, one of the best marks in the country. They were a dog a lot and barked a lot.
-Navy was one of the slowest teams in the country last year, but in a few non con games this year, they are playing a bit faster and the halfcourt offense has been terrific led by 6'0 senior Cam Davis. Over the last 2 games, they dropped 54. Navy might be a title undervalued in the OVERs markets.
-Holy Cross won just 3 total games last year. They come back this year down their best player in Joe Pridgen who transferred. The Crusaders lost money but weren't terrible and actually somewhat honorable ATS at 14-17. This year, they might be really bad against the number losing Pridgen.
Enjoy the Patriot and bet responsibly.