The Patriot League: Well, This is an Amazing Mess

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I want to give the Patriot League a big, sloppy kiss right on its collective mouth. I usually reserve such signs of affection for THUNDERDOME! -- the Colonial Athletic Association -- but Massachusetts has been running through that league like the Ice Truck Killer this year and I really feel like our relationship is deteriorating. We should have a talk or something.

Throughout 2012, the conference has been a bit of a madhouse, and unless Nurse Ratched punches the button for the nuclear lobotomy option, the frenetic nature of the league should continue through the next two weeks of its regular season. As of today, there are really only two knowns preceding the league's conference tournament (which starts on April 27th):

  • Thanks for playing, Holy Cross. Your defeats are fuel for the winning. A date against Army allows for the possibility of spoiling some of the fun in determining which four teams will engage in fisticuffs for the tournament championship, but the likelihood of that happening is similar to President Obama naming me Secretary of the Beerterior.
  • Lafayette is boned. It's not like they're already a game or two back in the 2013 Patriot League standings, but a finishing stretch of Colgate and Lehigh while already sitting at 1-3 in-conference would require a miracle not seen since Marisa Tomei's Oscar victory.

Otherwise, there aren't too many definitives hanging over the conference. The race for those precious four league tournament positions are up for grabs among five teams, including the pole position which brings with it home-field advantage through the playoffs. The possibility for multiple NCAA Tournament bids also exists, but if everyone starts eating each others heads, that could quickly evaporate.

Here's a quick table on where everyone stands in the Patriot League. Some brief thoughts follow:

THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: UH, YEAH, SURE THEY COULD WIN IT ALL
TEAM ADJ. OFF. EFF. ADJ. DEF. EFF. ADJ. EFF. MARGIN P.L. RECORD REMAINING
Lehigh 30.12 (29) 21.19 (4) 8.93 (10) 3-1 Bucknell; Lafayette
Colgate 33.98 (11) 26.17 (16) 7.81 (11) 3-1 Lafayette; Bucknell
Bucknell 33.29 (12) 25.56 (15) 7.74 (12) 3-1 Lehigh; Colgate
Navy 30.61 (24) 27.41 (23) 3.19 (27) 3-2 Army
Army 30.43 (28) 25.53 (14) 4.90 (17) 2-2 Navy; Holy Cross
Lafayette 24.95 (53) 28.78 (30) -3.83 (43) 1-3 Colgate; Lehigh
Holy Cross 27.26 (45) 34.82 (56) -7.56 (53) 0-5 Army
  • Bucknell, with its finishing slate of Lehigh and Colgate, has the toughest road to the top spot on the table. It is also in a tough race for the third and fourth seeding positions -- if Bucknell loses out and Army wins out, the Bison will be one of the most dangerous four-seeds in the history of Patriot League four-seeds; if Bucknell loses out and Army splits, the Black Knights still hold a head-to-head tiebreaker against the Bison due to Army's overtime win against Bucknell this past Saturday; if Bucknell loses out, Navy beats Army, and Army whallops Holy Cross, well, Bucknell is in a crisis situation that requires alert sirens because the world is likely ending. The Bison need a split of its final two games -- a very tall task -- if it wants to assure itself a seat at the Patriot League party. (Does that party require an ascot? I hope so.)
  • Lehigh and Colgate are, basically, swapping travel partners in their final two outings. Whichever can pull off the victory against Bucknell puts itself in the best position to make teams get on a bus and drive to their university outposts. The Raiders hold the head-to-head against the Mountain Hawks, and if Colgate wins out they're going to be a nightmare to knock off in Hamilton.
  • Army hosts Navy this weekend up at West Point and there's all sorts of important stuff on the line (other than silly things like which branch of the military has cooler things that cause explosions). If the Midshipmen can pull out the win, they'll assure themselves a position in the league tournament; if Army wins, Navy is then in a wait-and-see position (they only hold a head-to-head win over Colgate) and the Black Knights -- in all likelihood due to a season-closing date against Holy Cross -- put themselves in the Patriot League playoffs. These are crazy times down at Costello Music.

There are obviously other permutations here, but those are the biggest storylines, bro, at this point in the Patriot campaign. Drink it all in. These are the good times, people.

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