Patriot League Power Rankings: Navy Midshipmen make some noise

Cedric Hankerson and the Boston University Terriers are the only unbeaten team in Patriot League play, but are they the top team in our Power Rankings?
Cedric Hankerson and the Boston University Terriers are the only unbeaten team in Patriot League play, but are they the top team in our Power Rankings?

It was a relatively quiet week in the Patriot League, but there was still a bit of movement across the board.

While the top three teams remained the same, we have a new top-ranked team in the conference power rankings. The top two teams are set to square off this coming Saturday, which will only lead to some more movement next week, and beyond.

The conference itself seems to be in for an exciting race come March, as anyone can turn it on at any given time and make a run up the standings. We saw that this past week, as one team jumped up four spots and into the top five of the power rankings.

Here’s this week’s edition of the Patriot League Power Rankings, with a new top dog in the conference.

1. Boston University Terriers (10-7, 5-0)

Last Week: 2

No team in the Patriot League is on more of a roll than the Boston Univ. Terriers.

Following their five game losing skid in November and December, the Terriers have kicked things into another gear since conference play kicked off at the end of the 2016 calendar year. Coming into this past week, they had won four straight contests, and five of their past six overall.

This past week, Boston University only had one game on their schedule, a home date against American. A 10-point win on their home floor, coupled with a loss to last week’s number one team vaulted the Terriers into the top spot.

Having a healthy Cedric Hankerson doesn’t hurt, as the junior is paying dividends for the team this season.

This Week: 11/16 @ Loyola (MD); 11/18 v. Colgate; 11/21 @ Bucknell

2. Bucknell Bison (13-6, 5-1)

Last Week: 1

Coming into the week, Boston University and Bucknell were the lone unbeatens in Patriot League play, and they looked to be on a collision course for their match-up on January 21st.

This past week, however, the Bison suffered their first defeat of conference play, and slipped from the top spot in our rankings for the time being. Lehigh knocked off the Bison by 11 on Bucknell’s home floor, but the Bison bounced back with a solid showing on the road in a win over Colgate.

On paper, and in terms of results, Bucknell is one of the strongest teams in the conference, led by Zach ThomasNana Foulland and Kimbal Mackenzie. However, it’s tough to deny the roll that Boston has been on over the past couple of weeks.

Bucknell and Boston square off on Saturday, January 21st. Circle that on your calendars.

This Week: 1/18 v. Loyola (MD); 1/21 v. Boston U.

3. Lehigh Mountain Hawks (10-7, 4-2)

Last Week: 3

Slowly but surely, the preseason favourites in the Patriot League are rounding into form, and looking more and more like the team many thought they would be.

Led by Tim Kempton, the Mountain Hawks knocked off Bucknell last week, and went a perfect 2-0 over their two games. If it were on the road, the Bison and Mountain Hawks would have been switched in this week’s rankings. However, with Lehigh playing on their home court, the end result was less of a surprise.

Winners of three in a row, the Mountain Hawks are trending in the right direction. Arguably the most balanced team in the conference, the Mountain Hawks have another big week ahead, including a game against a team that is making some noise in the conference standings.

This Week: 1/18 @ Navy; 1/21 v. Lafayette

4. Holy Cross Crusaders (9-10, 3-3)

Last Week: 4

Last year’s conference tournament champions are still right in the thick of things in the race for the Patriot League regular season crown, and have the look of a team who could very well make a run come March and be back in the field of 68 come Selection Sunday.

This past week, the Holy Cross Crusaders split a pair of game, winning at home by double-digits over Lafayette, while falling on the road against Lehigh.

Malachi Alexander continued his strong play, averaging 17 points over the two games last week. He has scored in double-figures in four of his last five contests. His play will be key to the Crusaders staying in the top half of the conference standings.

This Week: 1/18 @ Army West Point

5. Navy Midshipmen (8-10, 3-3)

Last Week: 9

Thanks to a pair of road wins, both by double-figures, the Navy Midshipmen jumped four spots in the Patriot League Power Rankings this week. They knocked off both Loyola (MD) and Lafayette on their courts, and did so in convincing fashion.

Bryce Dulin had his best two-game stretch of the season. He scored 14 points against the Greyhounds, and saved his best for the Leopards. He hit five of six attempts from three point range for a career-high 23 points against Lafayette. He was a critical piece of the puzzle in both wins for Navy, and showcased his shooting abilities on both nights.

Moving forward, it’s tough to predict which Navy team we will see on each night. But, for the time being, the momentum is squarely behind them. They have a great opportunity to knock off a top team, as they take on Lehigh this week. Then, they take on Army West Point in the first of two installments in their rivalry.

In sum, there are two perfect opportunities to keep the ball rolling in their favour.

This Week: 1/18 v. Lehigh; 1/21 @ Army West Point

6. Loyola (MD) Greyhounds (8-8. 2-3)

Last Week: 6

While they only had one game this week, the past seven days weren’t too kind to the Greyhounds.

Loyola (MD) fell to Navy by 13 points in their lone contest last week, dropping their conference record below the .500 mark. They have now lost two straight, and three of their past four games overall.

They held steady at the six-spot this week, only because the teams below them (with the exception of Navy) didn’t have their best weeks of the year, either.

This Week: 1/16 v. Boston U.; 1/18 @ Boston U.; 1/21 @ Colgate

7. Lafayette Leopards (6-11, 2-4)

Last Week: 5

Following a pair of losses last week, Lafayette dropped two spots and out of the top five for the time being. The talent is there, but the results simply haven’t matched up this season.

The Leopards have lost three straight games, all by 17 points or more. They got blown out of the gym against Navy this past week, losing by 37 points, falling 88-51 to the Midshipmen.

Simply put, they are trending the wrong way, and it’s puzzling as to why. With the likes of Nick Lindner and Matt Klinewski leading the way, they should be a top-five team in the conference. The depth continues to be an issue, along with defense. They have guys who play minutes, but aren’t putting up the production numbers to keep up with the top teams in the conference.

This Week: 1/18 @ American; 1/21 @ Lehigh

8. Army West Point Black Knights (8-10, 2-4)

Last Week: 7

While they did split their two games last week, they took on the bottom two teams in the conference, and looked less than impressive on both outings.

They lost to Colgate at home by three, and won on the road by just four against American, resulting in the Black Knights dropping a spot in this week’s power rankings.

After losing their starting lineup from last year, and head coach Zach Spiker, it was up in the air as to how the team would perform this season. Sophomores John Emezie and Jordan Fox, along with freshman Michael Wilson have taken on a lead role for Army West Point this season.

The talent is there, but they’re a young team. The Black Knights are a year or two away from being back near the top of the Patriot League.

On a side note, nine of their ten losses this season have been decided by 10 points or less.

This Week: 1/18 v. Holy Cross; 1/21 v. Navy

9. Colgate Raiders (4-15, 2-4)

Last Week: 10

The Colgate Raiders put an end to their losing woes for a brief moment this past week, as they knocked off Army West Point for their first win of 2017. It was also just their second win since November 29th.

While they lost to Bucknell in their final game of the week, going on the road and taking down the Black Knights in overtime was a confidence-building game for a young Raiders’ team.

They’re still a bottom half team, and will be for the majority of the year, but a win is a win, and it’s a step in the right direction.

This Week: 1/18 @ Boston U.; 1/21 v. Loyola (MD)

10. American University Eagles (4-13, 1-5)

Last Week: 8

The bounces haven’t been going the way of the Eagles as of late. After a win over Colgate to open the New Year, the Eagles have now lost four straight games in conference play, and sit at the bottom of the standings.

All six of their Patriot League games have been decided by 10 points or less, and three of their losses were by six or less.

Sa’eed Nelson has been a bright spot, averaging 16.0 points per game while averaging over 38 minutes of court time per night.

This Week: 1/18 v. Lafayette

– T. Bennett