Here’s a game-by-game look at tonight’s Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals.
#8 Navy @ #1 Bucknell (-17.5 / 115)
– The Midshipmen went 0-14 in regular season conference play and 3-25 overall but they enter this quarterfinal round having lost by more than this price only four times this season and one of those was to Missouri. On this floor four days ago, Navy played Bucknell very competitively losing by nine 64-55. The immediate turnaround situation in this contest could be viewed as an edge for either side but whichever stance you take is dictated by the Bison’s motivational angle. They could take a bored approach to this #8 seed which they’ve disposed of twice now or they could focus on distancing themselves early to keep the crowd energetic and coast through the second half. The latter is exactly what Bucknell did on Saturday leading by double-digits almost throughout the entire contest but the Middies never quit playing and made it a single-digit final. Bucknell has won by more than this asking price once in Patriot League play and their preferred slower tempo makes it difficult to gain extreme separation. The game totals between these teams landed 117 and 119. I don’t have a preference here but if forced to take a stance for a beer, Navy +17.5 looks the most 2:00 am attractive.
#5 Lafayette @ #4 Holy Cross (-6 / 134.5)
– Lafayette played a very strong schedule down the stretch and it resulted in a 1-4 straight up record with the average loss being by 11.25 points per game. One of those losses was a 70-63 home verdict to these Crusaders. Conversely, Holy Cross went 6-0 SU in their last six games with all but one of them coming by seven points or more. There’s a sharp contrast in styles between these teams and the fact that they split the season series with each winning at the other’s pace makes the handicap a bit confusing. What’s not confusing are the facts that Holy Cross owns the home floor for this game (6-1 here in league play) and the superior defense (HC allows 41.7% FG shooting while Lafayette gives up 46.8%). Add in the fact that the Crusaders own home victories over conference kingpins Bucknell and Lehigh and you can make a pretty good case for a small play on the host.
#7 Colgate @ #2 Lehigh (-20.5 / 137)
– Colgate has not yet found an answer on how to slow down the highly efficient Lehigh attack which has scored 74+ points in each of their last six matchups. The consistency of high scoring efforts by the Mountain Hawks isn’t likely to change here since a large number of the same players on each team continue to be part of this current trend. Under first year HC Matt Langel, Colgate has been a very effective three point shooting team hitting 38.7% for the season which includes an impressive 21-41-51.2% against Lehigh. With the strong offensive recent history between these teams (average 156.8 ppg), it seems to be a good spot to take a flyer and buck today’s downward line movement. With the format of this tourney giving tonight’s four winners the next two days off, there’s no coaching concern about extensive minutes for players. Even in a blowout scenario, expect Lehigh’s main cogs to be on the floor until about the three minute mark of the second half. The opener of 140.5 wasn’t very playable from an over perspective but the expanded wiggle room now given makes this at least worth a look.
#6 Army @ #3 American (-11.5 / 131)
– Outside of Lehigh guard C.J McCollum, the league’s two best scorers are in this game. American senior SF Charles Hinkle (18.8 ppg) and Army SF Ella Ellis (17.7 ppg) have extremely similar season stat lines and each will be the focus of tonight’s opposing defenses. In a pair of earlier meetings, Army fell to American on this floor 67-55 and at home they lost 74-50. Those point totals were two of Army’s three lowest in Patriot League play this season which demonstrates just how good the American U. defense is. In seven home conference games this year, the Eagles held their opponents to 55 points or less five times with only the conference’s #1 scoring team Lehigh (62) and #2 Lafayette (69) tallying more. Six of the seven opponents were held below their season scoring average and Lafayette tied theirs. Expect HC Jeff Jones (12th season) defense to dig in again tonight and stifle the Army offense which shot just 33% & 35% in their earlier tries. The methodical nature of the Eagles offense (62.3 possessions in league play) makes this a game where some value can be found in the “under”.
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