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Patriot League tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

C (USATSI)
Maurice Watson, left, and coach Joe Jones have BU trying to make its eighth NCAA tourney. (USATSI)

What: Patriot League championship.

When: March 3, 5, 8, 12.

Where: Every game of the Patriot League tournament is hosted by the higher seed.

Bracket: View tournament field here.

TV: Semifinals on March 8 and championship on March 12 on CBS Sports Network.

Last year's champ: Bucknell (28-5, No. 11 seed)

What matters: This league has been dictated by defense. Colgate, the No. 1 team in offensive efficiency in the conference, finished 6-12 and is the No. 7 seed. Over the past four seasons Bucknell and Lehigh split the tourney, each making two NCAA appearances. Lehigh is a long shot, and Bucknell's now the No. 4 seed. We should have a new rep this year, and lo and behold, Boston University -- which just joined the Patriot League this season after a long run in the America East -- is the No. 1 seed.

Who matters: Maurice Watson of BU is the league's best player. He leads the league with 6.6 assists per game, and in fact his assist distribution rate is second-best in the country. He's also third in the conference in steals, in addition to averaging 13.4 points. Army's Kyle Wilson is far and away the best scorer in the league, putting up 18.2 points. Holy Cross big Dave Dudzinki leads the league in rebounding (7.5) and is third in scoring.

Fun fact: Bucknell has the hottest streak entering the tournament, winners of six in a row. The Bison have proven it in the past. This could be among the best small-league tourneys we see play out, in part because it's not on consecutive days.

Prediction: American beats Boston U for the title. The Eagles lead the league in points per game, scoring margin, field goal percentage, defensive points per possession, defensive rebounding and assists. No other team is atop more statistical categories. Given the sample size, the Eagles, although the No. 2 seed, seem the safest pick.

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