Last year’s Rank: 27 out of 32
Best Team: American (108)
Worst team: Lafayette (312)
Last year’s NCAA Rep(s): American
Ever since I read John Feinstein’s book The Last Amateurs, I have watched the Patriot League with a curious eye. Part of it is due to me always being interested in small time college basketball, but the other part is that it is the best basketball book I have ever read.
American won the Patriot League title last year, losing just one conference game, but losing all five starters paves the way for another team to fill their void in the NCAA Tournament.Holy Cross is the presumptive favorite, with a new coach (Sean Kearney), four returning starters, and potential impact transfer Mike Cavataio, who was a highly regarded recruit who saw little playing time at St. Johns. In order to win the league, the Crusaders are going to have to turn it over less. They turned it over on about a quarter of their possessions, which ranked 331st nationally. I look for Andrew Keister to have an impact year, as the Freshman put up very impressive rebounding numbers last year (19.1% offensive, 18.5% defensive). Holy Cross doesn’t get much done from the outside, so Keister and Adam May will have to provide their scoring.
Lehigh is the other potential challenger. Marquis Hall had the 29th best assist rate among qualifiers last year, and also shot 83% from the line. Zahir Carrington also had a strong year, drawing 6.5 fouls/40 minutes, although he needs to improve on his 69% ft percentage. He also needs to improve his A/TO numbers if he wants to make all-Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks also lose a big chunk of their rebounding as Bryan White (25.1%) was the 27th best defensive rebounder last year.
In the end, I think I’m going to go with Holy Cross to win the league just to appease Bill Simmons, but it should be a roller coaster year for the league.
Preseason POY: Marquis Hall, Lehigh
All league team:
Andrew Keister, Holy Cross
Zahir Carrington, Lehigh
Chris Harris, Navy
Andrew Brown, Lafayette