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2014 Patriot League Tournament Preview: Can Boston U. win first season in Patriot?

Mar 3, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

source: Getty Images

Getty Images

The 2014 Patriot League Tournament kicks off Monday night with a pair of preliminary contests. Back in October, newcomer Boston University was viewed as the favorite, and thanks to its strong finish BU enters the field as the top seed. Despite holding home-court advantage, it will be far from easy for the Terriers. American University has had a strong start to conference play, but stumbled as of late. With Jesse Reed and Tony Wroblicky on the roster, the Eagles can still make a run over the next 10 days. Bucknell enters the tournament as the league’s hottest team, while Holy Cross had greatly exceeded preseason expectations. Army and Lehigh, Nos. 5 and 6 seed, have the ability to cause some chaos in this year’s bracket.

It’s been an unpredictable Patriot League season so far, why should the postseason tournament be any different?

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

When: March 3-12

Where: Campus sites (higher seed)

Final: March 12, 7:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Favorite: Boston University

The Terriers entered their first season in the Patriot League as the preseason favorite. There was a rough patch midway through conference play when Patriot League contender American handed BU at 30-point loss. Ten days later, Lehigh gave the Terriers their second loss in four games. Since Boston University has won seven out of eight, with its only defeat to red-hot Bucknell. The BU core of D.J. Irving, Dom Morris, Maurice Watson, Jr., and John Papale have home-court advantage through out the Patriot League title.

And if they lose?: Bucknell

Boston University could potentially play Bucknell is the semifinals, which would be a difficult matchup for the Terriers. The two teams split the regular season meeting, both games decided by a combined 13 points. The Bison graduated an incredible senior class, specifically Mike Muscala. After losing to Holy Cross on Feb. 9, the Bison sat 5-7 in the league. Since then, Bucknell has won six straight — including games over BU and American — to close out the season, entering the Patriot League tournament with a lot of momentum. If they get by BU, there’s a good chance the Bison can keep this streak rolling into the NCAA tournament.

Sleepers:

  • American:  Started off conference play 10-0, but reliance on starters — three of which average 34 or more minutes per game — has caused the Eagles to cool off since the start of February.
  • Holy Cross: A surprising team this season, the Crusaders ended the regular season third in the Patriot League. Holy Cross has won in different ways, and have relied on more than just Dave Dudzinski in some of those victories.

Studs:

  • Maurice Watson Jr., Boston University: One of the more underrated floor generals in the country, leads his team in scoring, assists and steals.
  • Cameron Ayers, Bucknell: The Patriot League Player of the Year has scored in double figures 27 times this season, averaging 15.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
  • Dave Dudzinski, Holy Cross: The senior forward has gone for 20 or more six times, including 20 points in the last meeting with BU. He recorded a double-double against the Terriers in the first meeting.

CBT Prediction: Boston University over Holy Cross