Center Valley, Pa. - The quest for the 2009 Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship begins with the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, with defending champion American playing as the No. 1 seed and hosting No. 8 Lafayette. No. 2 Holy Cross hosts No. 7 Bucknell, No. 3 Navy takes on No. 6 Colgate and No. 4 Army hosts No. 5 Lehigh in the other three contests.
Patriot League Quarterfinal Preview
It's win or go home time in Patriot League men's basketball, as the League Tournament tips off with the quarterfinal round on Wednesday. The evening's action begins at 7 p.m. with No. 7 seed Bucknell at No. 2 Holy Cross, No. 6 Colgate at No. 3 Navy and No. 5 Lehigh at No. 4 Army. The No. 1 seeded American Eagles begin defense of their League title at 7:30 p.m. at Bender Arena against No. 8 Lafayette. The winner of the Lehigh/Army game plays the winner of Lafayette/American in the semifinals on Sunday, with the winners on the other side of the bracket also facing off that day. All Patriot League Tournament games are played at the site of the higher seed, with the Championship on March 13
The Eagles won the Patriot League with a 13-1 mark in the regular season, claiming the top seed in the Tournament for the second year in a row. They are led by senior guards Derrick Mercer and Garrison Carr. Mercer was named Patriot League Player of the Year on Monday, while Carr earned his second consecutive First-Team All-League award. The Eagles are tied for third in the nation with a 10-game winning streak, and have victories in 16 of their last 17 games. Lafayette is led by senior guard Andrew Brown, who averages 13.6 points per game.
The Mountain Hawks and Black Knights play in the quarterfinals for the third year in a row. Lehigh is led by First-Team All-League selection Marquis Hall and Second-Team All-League choice Zahir Carrington. Army places 34th in the country in scoring defense, and has Patriot League Defensive Player of the year Marcus Nelson and Second-Team All-League pick Cleveland Richard on its side.
Bucknell and Holy Cross are meeting in the Patriot Leaguue Tournament for a record 12th time, with the Bison holding a 6-5 edge thus far. Bucknell is led by Second-Team All-League choice Patrick Behan, who has five consecutive 20-point games. Holy Cross boasts First-Team All-League pick Andrew Keister and Patriot League Rookie of the Year R.J. Evans for a team that went 11-3 in Patriot League action.
Colgate and Navy face off in Annapolis after just playing on Saturday in a game won by the Mids. The Raiders have lost five consecutive games coming into action, but do have three players scoring around 10 points per contest. Navy boasts First-Team All-Patriot League choice Kaleo Kina and Second-Team All-League pick Chris Harris, who each finished in the top three in overall and League only scoring in 2008-09.
Patriot League Notebook
American Enters Exclusive Company in League Annals
By clinching the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, American become the first team since Lafayette in 1998-00 to earn the top seed in consecutive seasons. The Leopards are the only program to earn three straight No. 1 seeds, with Colgate (1995-96)?and Fordham (1990-91) the others to do it in consecutive years. American is also the first team in League annals to earn sole possession of the regular-season title for two straight seasons. The Eagles will play as the No. 1 seed in the Tournament for the third time in eight years as a League member, with the other instance in 2002. American has captured a top four seed in each of its League seasons.
No. 1 Usually Ends Up No. 1
If history rings true, American has to like its chances as the No. 1 seed with home court throughout the Patriot League Tournament. The top seed has won 14 of the 18 League Tournaments, and has advanced to the title game every season. American continued that trend by winning the Championship as the No. 1 seed last year.
Repeat Is No Unusual Feat
Also in the Eagles' favor is the history of repeat champions in the Patriot League. There have already been six repeat champions in League annals, with just four champions earning only a single crown. Lehigh is the only Patriot League program to win one title but never repeat as a champion, a distinction the Eagles will try to avoid joining this season.
-- From PatriotLeague.org