Nov 1, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT
Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.
National fame in the Patriot League has almost always accrued to the name on the front of the jersey. Basketball fans are more likely to remember that Bucknell upset Kansas and Arkansas in back-to-back NCAA tournaments than anything an individual player achieved.
That dynamic has changed a bit, following Lehigh’s monster upending of the Duke Blue Devils last season. The Mountain Hawks’ brown paper bag uniform has taken on an additional luster, because it is being worn by legitimate preseason All-American C.J. McCollum. McCollum’s incandescent personal attributes are folded into a tight-knit team coached by rising star Brett Reed. The Mountain Hawks are favored to win the league, despite the additional pressure on McCollum, because senior big men Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner are chomping at the bit to make aggressive defenders pay.
That’s not to suggest that Lehigh will run away with the league. The plucky Bucknell Bison are back atop the league hierarchy this season, and were the regular-season champs a year ago. The formidable one-two punch of 6’11” banger Mike Muscala and rangy gunner Cameron Ayers gave the Bison an 11-point NIT win at Arizona last season, and should be plenty to strike fear in any opponent Bucknell faces in the upcoming campaign.
The talent surplus at the top hasn’t quite filtered down to the rest of the league, though Army will have a puncher’s chance every night, thanks to the all-around game of 6’7” senior Ella Ellis. Ellis scored in double figures in every game last season, but the Black Knights can’t give him much help.
Gaining the league’s auto-bid will be tougher next year — thanks to one of the wackier realignment developments — when the Boston Terriers (America East) and Loyola Greyhounds (MAAC) finally bring dog mascots to a league that had previously avoided one of the most dominant cliches in college sports.
All-League Team (*Player of the Year)
G *C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
G Cameron Ayers, Bucknell
F Ella Ellis, Army
F Gabe Knutson, Lehigh
C Mike Muscala, Bucknell
4. Holy Cross
- Malik Beasley looking to capitalize on a big spring, summer 0
- Top 15 recruit Antonio Blakeney has made the ‘jump’ — literally — to elite status 2
- July Live Period Week Two Superlatives 0
- Seven Takeaways from the Under Armour Finals 0
- Iowa State’s Georges Niang carries extra motivation – and less weight – into 2014-15 0
- Emmanuel Mudiay to China makes him even more of a case-study 0
- Four-star Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown gave up football to focus on basketball 0
- Mother of elite recruit Josh Jackson: ‘Josh hasn’t been recruited by anyone’ (4)
- Chris Walker looks like he’s spent some time in the gym (PHOTO) (3)
- NCAA gets rid of name-likeness release form for student-athletes (3)
- Isaiah Austin has a job with the NBA once he finishes degree at Baylor (2)
- Missouri State’s Marcus Marshall works to strengthen knee, leadership abilities (2)