College Basketball Betting Preview for Patriot League: Can Navy Challenge Colgate?

College Basketball Betting Preview for Patriot League: Can Navy Challenge Colgate? article feature image

Joe Robbins/Getty Images. Pictured: Oliver Lynch-Daniels

  • Colgate has gone 50-16 over the last four years in the Patriot League.
  • Navy looks like Colgate's biggest challenger, as it lost just three games in 2020-21.
  • Keg breaks down the conference from top-to-bottom.

Colgate won the Patriot League regular-season title and then dominated in the conference tournament to win the automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

The Raiders also set a league-tournament record for most points scored in a game when they topped Bucknell, 105-75.

Loyola (MD) posted the most internationally diverse team in the league with five players from outside the U.S. The Greyhounds have two players from Spain, two from Serbia and one from Nigeria.

Colgate Raiders

Overall Record 2020-2114-2

In the last four seasons, Colgate has gone 50-16 in the league, including an 11-1 mark last season in what was an abbreviated Patriot League season because of the COVID pandemic.

What the Raiders did last season was impressive, though.

Colgate ranked first in the league in scoring (85.2 PPG). Nationally, only Gonzaga scored at a higher clip per game.

The Raiders led the league in field-goal percentage (.493), 3-point shooting (.403), assists (17.6 APG) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6). That off-the-charts 3-point success ratio was third in the country, behind only national champion Baylor (.413) and South Dakota State (.404).

They were also first in the Patriot League in rebounding (39.9 RPG), field-goal percentage defense (.41) and 3-point percentage defense (.264).

With four starters and some key reserves back, expectations are understandably high again this year.

Colgate looks like a dynasty in the making, as it is experienced, talented and has depth at every position. Anything short of a conference championship game appearance would be a disappointment for the Raiders.

Navy Midshipmen

Overall Record 2020-2115-3

The last time Navy played in the conference tournament title game was 2001, but last season was different. Navy entered the 2021 postseason as the Patriot League's top seed.

The Midshipmen's dreams were cut short in the postseason tournament, though, due largely in part to things that were out of their control. They lost to Loyola (MD), whom they had defeated three times in the regular season.

The loss came after their leading scorer could not participate due to COVID contact tracing. Also, their second-leading scorer only logged 17 minutes because of a non-COVID illness.

They now return 85% of their minutes and a bigger chip on their shoulder than any other team in the conference. With four starters and many of the key bench pieces back, expect Navy to compete for a top-three spot in the Patriot League.

Betting note: Navy was the best team in the country last season ATS at a cover percentage of 77.8%.

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Boston University Terriers

Overall Record 2020-217-11

The Terriers are still trying to make their way back to the top of the Patriot League after their 2019 conference championship run was cut short due to the NCAA Tournament being canceled.

While COVID took away one of the Terriers' best chances to win the league in some time, it may have given them a new chance this year.

Five starters return for coach Joe Jones’ side — two are graduate students, two are seniors and one is a junior.

Between them, they have a combined 13 seasons of starting experience. Two have won all-league honors twice, two others were voted to last season’s Patriot League All-Defensive Team — with one of them winning the honor for the second straight year — and three were all-rookie picks as freshmen.

Going 7-11 last year feels like an anomaly to me, so I think the Terriers can bounce back this year and contend to win the conference.

Army Black Knights

Overall Record 2020-2112-10

After earning an invitation to the CBI, the Black Knights played in the postseason for just the second time since joining the Patriot League in 1990. It was just the fourth-winning season at West Point since Mike Krzyzewski led the Black Knights to three in a row in the 1970s.

Jimmy Allen is set up for a shot at being the only coach other than Krzyzewski to direct back-to-back winning seasons since the Bobby Knight glory days in the 1960s.

The Black Knights return three starters, but only 49% of their minutes — which puts them last in the Patriot League.

One of those important returnees will be Josh Caldwell (12.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG), the reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Caldwell led the league in steals. He also led Army in scoring and made 54.4% of his 2-point shots.

Army contending for a league title is unlikely. In the 30-year history of the Patriot League, every team has played in the tournament championship, except Army.

Allen has the Black Knights on a path to improvement, though, as he has led them to 25 Patriot League wins over the last three seasons.

That’s more league wins than in any three seasons since Army joined the conference. A second-straight season above .500 would be huge for the program.

American University Eagles

Overall Record 2020-214-6

The Eagles return 81% of their minutes from last season, however, they are still one of the younger teams in the conference.

Their four returning freshmen have only a limited 10-game campaign behind them because of the Patriot League’s conference-only season and COVID-related cancellations.

Josh Alexander is one of the few seniors on the team who should be a huge factor in the Eagles' success. He led the Eagles with 14 blocks last season and was second on the team in assists. Also, his 59.4% field-goal shooting was fifth in the league.

The American Eagles may be one of the hardest teams to project in college basketball because 10 of the 16 players on the roster have yet to experience a full season.

Last season’s 4-6 record doesn't tell us much either, as four of the six losses came to a Navy team that played its first game before American even conducted its first full practice.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Overall Record 2020-214-11

Head coach Brett Reed felt good about his team heading into last season, but that was until the University's strict COVID protocols and off-campus issues resulted in all students being restricted to their dorms in the fall.

Pair that with a series of preseason injuries to key players, and you start to see why Lehigh finished the year 4-11.

But thanks to the NCAA’s free year of eligibility, the Mountain Hawks return four starters who account for more return minutes than anyone else in the Patriot League.

Third-team All-Patriot League pick Marques Wilson (15.3 PPG) is back for a fifth season and will lead the way for the Mountain Hawks. He led the team in scoring, assists and steals last year.

In addition to the four returning starters, there are players with starting experience who will be coming off the bench. The Mountain Hawks return their top seven scorers and seven leading rebounders from last season.

However, these are the same guys who only won four games and finished at the bottom of the conference. They were also the same guys who were last in the conference in scoring and shooting and the same guys who were in the bottom-three in every major defensive team statistical category.

Given what Lehigh went through last preseason, I think a regular offseason will help them tremendously, but the ceiling for the Mountain Hawks is likely just breaking into the top half of the Patriot League.

Loyola (MD) Greyhounds

Overall Record 2020-216-11

The offseason has been very odd for the Greyhounds.

Santi Aldama (21.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG) — who led the Patriot League in rebounding and was second in scoring as a sophomore — left for the NBA draft.

Andrej Jakimovski was expected to transfer from Washington State to take his place, but when the Cougars' grad school denied an incoming player, Jakimovski returned to the Pacific Northwest.

Now, without Jakimovski, coach Tavaras Hardy will have to figure out another way to make up for the loss of Aldama.

Golden Dike (7.1 PPG) and Alonso Faure (5.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG) will be the closest the Greyhounds can come to replicating his output.

Not getting Jakimovski changes everything for this team, and players will likely need to play out of position just to fill minutes. It will be a challenge for Loyola (MD) to stay out of the last-place spot in the Patriot League.

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Lafayette Leopards

Overall Record 2020-219-6

Nearly every basketball program in the country will benefit from the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility given to players — except Lafayette. Lafayette has no graduate school and therefore, seniors could not return for an additional year unless they transferred somewhere else.

Head coach Fran O'Hanlon will have to replace two players who recorded more than half of the team's points last season. Justin Jaworski (21.5 PPG) turned pro after being first-team all-league and E.J. Stephens (16.4 PPG) made the All-Patriot League Second Team before transferring to Minnesota.

The Leopards will also be without Tyrone Perry (8.3 PPG), a two-year starter who blew out his ACL. Perry — a 36% 3-point shooter last season and the team’s best on-ball defender — will be out until at least December.

When O'Hanlon put the schedule together he expected to have Perry, whom they will now be without when they play Syracuse, Rutgers and Duke.

O’Hanlon's offense also takes some time to learn and with two freshmen leading the way until Perry returns, the beginning of the season could be ugly for the Leopards.

If Perry does come back for conference play, Lafayette may be an underrated team to catch an exaggerated line with, but unfortunately, that's about the most I expect out of the Leopards.

Bucknell Bison

Overall Record 2020-215-7

Last season’s 4-6 record in league play marked the second year in a row Bucknell had a losing conference record. The last time that happened, it was followed by something quite impressive.

In 2009-2010, the Bison went 9-5 and finished second in the regular season. They went on to reach the conference finals the next three years, winning two titles.

That was the beginning of a decade in which Bucknell won seven regular-season titles and advanced to the tournament final six times, winning four championships.

This season's team brings almost scary similarities to that 09-10 team.

They have a seven-foot big man in Andre Screen (7.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.5 BPG), who has shown flashes of Mike Muscala and could be the best big in the conference. Andrew Funk (12.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG) and Xander Rice (10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG) also will play significant roles for the Bison.

This Bucknell team still has a lot to prove after going 5-7 last year. If they can be half as effective as the 09-10 team, this Bucknell squad could be bad news for the rest of the League.

Holy Cross Crusaders

Overall Record 2020-215-11

The Crusaders had enough issues to deal with last year before the pandemic hit. Head coach Brett Nelson had to replace eight players who left the program, leaving him with six freshmen, two transfers and just two seniors.

With all that — and COVID stopping them from any summer and preseason workouts — I would say it's pretty impressive that the Crusaders won even five games.

Holy Cross faces a similar situation this year, with two seniors academically, five freshmen and another transfer. Altogether, there isn't much experience.

The one major positive for Nelson is that it will be his first true season with an offseason since joining the program.

Gerrale Gates (16.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG) is one of the few returning starters and will be a huge key to the team's success.

Gates joined the Crusaders last season as a transfer from New Orleans, where he won the 2019 Southland Conference Freshman of the Year.

In his first season at Holy Cross, Gates led the team in scoring and ranked fourth in the Patriot League in rebounding. He also earned third team all-league honors.

With so little experience and Nelson still trying to establish the program, anything other than a last-place finish would be impressive for the Crusaders.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC