Navy Midshipmen (11-5) at Colgate Raiders (7-7)
This weekend was absolutely bonkers. Fifteen of the nations’ top twenty-five lost this weekend! Including three of the top five. It was a shakeup that I haven’t seen in a long time. Up was down and left was right as both number one and number two lost to unheralded and unranked teams, and there were upsets up and down the rankings.
We backed the number one team in the land, Michigan State, and they promptly got blasted by Ohio State as they were down twenty or more the entire second half. It was just one of those weekends where everything went haywire! Today it is a very short schedule for college basketball as there are just fourteen games on the schedule. We will focus in on a matchup from the Patriot League featuring the Navy Midshipmen playing against the Colgate Raiders.
The Navy Midshipmen will travel to Hamilton, New York to play the Raiders of Colgate University. The two teams are tied atop the Patriot League standings at 2-1 in conference and today’s game will go a long way into deciding which team will take the lead in the chase for the Patriot League’s auto-bid into the NCAA tournament this season.
The Midshipmen have won seven out of their last nine games, including the last two in conference against Lehigh and American. The Raiders have recovered after some early season struggles and are winners of four out of their last five games. The Raiders are -4.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 139.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 PM PST from Cotterell Court.
Oh, the Patriot League. A league that very rarely gets any national attention until its time to fill out your brackets and you have to ask your friend what state Bucknell plays in, and if they can pull off that thirteen seed upset. The Patriot League is down this year as the only team in the conference with a winning record is Navy. As is almost always the case this is a one-bid league again this season. That makes these games so important as no matter what you do in the Patriot League if you don’t win the league’s auto-bid to the NCAA tournament, you aren’t making it to the Big Dance.
Navy has a decent record on the surface at 11-5, but when you take a closer look, it’s not overly impressive. The Midshipmen have played a very soft schedule and don’t have any good wins on the season. The games they have played against legit competition, they haven’t been competitive. They did pick up a couple of nice wins in conference against Lehigh and American, but the loss to 4-win Loyola is an ugly blemish on their record.
Navy is led by senior guard Shawn Anderson. Anderson has been the model of consistency over his three years as a starter for Navy, averaging right around twelve points a game for the last three seasons. Navy had hoped Anderson would blossom as a senior, but he really hasn’t improved much in his time in the starting lineup, and they need a lot more out of him in conference play if they are going to find themselves in the NCAA tournament this year.
The Colgate Raiders are just 7-7 on the year but have turned things up so far in conference play. They played a tougher schedule than most of the rest of the league did out of conference, and played games with UCONN, Boston College, and Syracuse. They lost each of those games, but they showed they can hang with legit big conference programs this season. The Raiders have won four out of their last five games, dropping a bad one to Lafayette their last time out.
Nobody in the Patriot League looks like they are going to win a game this year in the NCAA tournament. Conference kingpin Bucknell is likely to win the league again this season, but they aren’t as good as they have been over the last several years and that leaves the door open for one of these teams to go dancing.
The deciding factor for me in this game is the home and away splits for both teams. Both teams are very solid at home and disastrous on the road. Navy is a dismal 3-4 in true road games this season, while Colgate is 5-1 at home. In these little conferences, the home team has a huge advantage, and many of these games are decided by what court the game is played on. Neither of these teams are good enough to go on the road and win in conference. We saw that when Navy played its first road game in conference against a terrible Loyola Team and lost by nine points.
I expect a similar result here tonight. A close game early that sees the Raiders pull away late to win by 7-10 points and easily cover the number. There is just no way I can back this Navy team on the road against anyone, let alone against a conference rival that has shown it can protect its home court. Give me the Colgate Raiders at home laying -4.5 points tonight!