Patriot League Men's Basketball Postseason Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG American's Darius Gardner and Boston University's Maurice Watson Jr. lead their teams into the postseason.
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG
American's Darius Gardner and Boston University's Maurice Watson Jr. lead their teams into the postseason.
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG

March 18, 2014

Patriot League Men's Basketball Postseason Preview Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - American takes on No. 12/15 Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in Milwaukee on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. on TruTV while Boston University opens the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at home against Illinois on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Holy Cross already started its action in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, beating Brown 68-65 in a first-round game on Monday and moving into the second round on either Friday or Saturday.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*American (NCAA) and Boston University (NIT) begin their postseason play this week.
*The No. 15 seed Eagles take on No. 2 Wisconsin in the NCAA West Region second round on Thursday at 12:40 p.m.
*The contest in Milwaukee can be seen on TruTV with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel on the call.
*American is 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament, falling in close games in both 2008 and 2009.
*Patriot League teams have three wins in the Round of 64, most recently when Lehigh beat Duke in a 15-2 game in 2012.
*Boston University hosts Illinois in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
*The Patriot League last won games in both the NCAA and NIT in 2012 when Lehigh and Bucknell earned victories.
*Each of the three Patriot League teams to appear in the NIT won its first-round game.
*Boston University goes for its first win in the NIT, as the Terriers fell in appearances in 1980, 1986, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
*The Patriot League already has a postseason win as Holy Cross beat Brown 68-65 in the first round of the CIT on Monday.
*The Crusaders will face an opponent that is yet to be determined on either Friday or Saturday.

Patriot League Postseason Notebook

Three Patriot League Teams in the Postseason
American takes on No. 12/15 Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. on TruTV while Boston University opens the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at home against Illinois on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Holy Cross already started its action in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, beating Brown 68-65 in a first-round game on Monday and moving into the second round on either Friday or Saturday. The last time the Patriot League had three teams in the postseason, Lehigh recorded a 75-70 upset of Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and Bucknell won 65-54 at Arizona in the first round of the NIT in 2012. That was the only other instance where three Patriot League teams played in the postseason.

American Wins 2014 Patriot League Championship
American won with strong defense and good shooting all season, so it was fitting that the Eagles used that exact blueprint to roll to a 55-36 victory over Boston University in the Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday at Agganis Arena. American led from start to finish in the decisive victory. The Eagles scored the first four points, and later went on an 8-0 run to build a 16-7 lead with 8:12 to play in the first half. Darius Gardner scored the team's last eight points of the period for a 24-16 lead at the break. BU got within six early in the second half, but the Terriers would get no closer. American held the lead between seven and 12 points until closing the game with an 11-2 run in the final 3:34 to pull away for the 19-point win. American held the Terriers to the lowest point total in Patriot League Championship game history, 10 points fewer than the previous mark of 46 that Colgate scored against the Eagles in 2008. The Eagles limited BU to 16-of-52 (30.8%) from the field and just 1-of-17 from three-point range in the game. American, which was picked ninth in the preseason, also became the first team to limit all three of its League Tournament opponents to 50 points or less. Gardner led the Eagles with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and dished out four assists, and was named Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player. American shot 19-of-34 (55.9%) from the field in the game.

Patriot League History in NCAA Tournament
Patriot League squads are a combined 3-22 in the NCAA Tournament, with each of the wins coming in the Round of 64 where the League has a 3-18 record. Bucknell beat Kansas 64-63 in 2005 and Arkansas 59-55 in 2006 before Lehigh became one of only seven No. 15 seeds in NCAA Tournament history to beat a No. 2 when it knocked off Duke 75-70 in 2012.

Patriot League History in NIT
The Patriot League has made three appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, and earned a win in the first round each time. Fordham knocked off South Florida 76-66 in the League's inagural season in 1991, while Holy Cross won 78-73 at Notre Dame in 2005 and Bucknell posted a 65-54 win at Arizona in 2012. Each Patriot League squad went on to lose its second-round contest. Boston University will play the second NIT home game for a Patriot League team, and first since Masssachusetts won at Fordham in the second round in 1991.

American, BU Each Go for First Win in Tournaments
American dropped both of its NCAA Tournament contests when the Eagles went in consecutive seasons in 2008 and 2009. American hung tough until the final minutes in both games, but fell 72-57 as a No. 15 seed to No. 2 Tennessee in 2008 and 80-67 as a No. 14 seed against No. 3 Villanova in 2009. American was within a point of Tennessee with six minutes left, and led Villanova by 14 in the second half before the Wildcats rallied late. Boston University is 0-5 in the NIT, dropping games in 1980 and 1986 before losing in three straight seasons from 2003-05.

Eagles, Terriers Used to Success
American and Boston University are each accustomed to the success they have found this season. The Eagles have reached the 20-win mark for the third time in four seasons and fifth in the last seven years, and have only once ever finished below the top half in the Patriot League standings in 13 seasons. The Terriers are 24-10 in their first season in the Patriot League, one win away from the school record set in 1996-97 and good for their third 20-win campaign in the last five years.

Some History on the Side of the Eagles
American faces a daunting task to win as a No. 15 seed, but some recent history says the Eagles can get it done. Americanwas the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, and the last two squads to make the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the League went on to win a Round of 64 game. Bucknell's win over Kansas in 2005 and Lehigh's victory over Duke in 2012 came after each squad won the League title game on the road as a No. 2 seed. And while Lehigh's win was one of only seven for the No. 15 seed over the No. 2, three of those outcomes have come in the last two seasons.

Beating the Big Ten
The Patriot League will face a pair of Big Ten opponents in the postseason this season, which is one more than the conferences had ever faced off before. The only prior matchup between the Patriot League and Big Ten in the postseason also came against Wisconsin as the Badgers beat Bucknell 71-62 in the Round of 32 in 2005. But while there is little postseason track record to go on, Patriot League teams have recorded a win against the Big Ten in each of the last three seasons as Lafayette won at Penn State in 2011-2012, Bucknell at Purdue in 2012-13 and the Bison again at Penn State this season. Colgate has the most recent matchup against the postseason foes, falling to Illinois in 2012-13 and Wisconsin in 2011-12. Patriot League teams are 0-2 all-time against the Illini and 0-3 against the Badgers.

Holy Cross Opens CIT with Victory Over Brown
Holy Cross earned its first postseason win since the 2005 NIT with a 68-65 victory at Brown in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Monday. The Crusaders built a 19-point first-half lead before holding on for the three-point win. Holy Cross is the second Patriot League team to play in the CIT, and first to earn a win. The Crusaders advance to the second round where they will face an opponent that is yet to be determined on either Friday or Saturday.

Three 20-Win Teams
Holy Cross' victory gave the Patriot League three 20-win teams for the second time in League history. The only previous instance came in 2012, one of the most memorable seasons in League annals as Lehigh (27-8), Bucknell (25-10) and American (20-12) all topped the mark and made the postseason with the Mountain Hawks winning an NCAA Tournament game and the Bison claiming an NIT victory.

NCAA Tournament - Second Round - West Region

No. 15 American Eagles (20-12, 13-5) vs. No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (26-7, 12-6 B10)
BMO Harris Bradley Center; Milwaukee, Wis. - Thursday, 12:40 p.m.
TV: TruTV (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel)
Coverage: March Madness Live | GameTracker | NCAA Tournament Bracket
*American plays in its third NCAA Tournament when it opens against Wisconsin on Thursday at 12:40 p.m.
*The contest can be seen on TruTV with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel on the call.
*American fell in the Round of 64 in each of its previous two NCAA appearances.
*The Eagles lost 72-57 as a No. 15 seed to No. 2 Tennessee in 2008, and 80-67 as a No. 14 to No. 3 Villanova in 2009.
*Patriot League teams are a combined 3-22 in the NCAA Tournament, and 3-18 in the Round of 64.
*Wins were posted by Bucknell (2005 and 2006) and Lehigh (2012), which beat Duke 75-70 in a 15-2 matchup.
*There have been seven wins for the No. 15 seed over the No. 2, with three coming in the last two years.
*It is the second time the Patriot League and Big Ten face off in the NCAA Tournament.
*Wisconsin beat Bucknell 71-62 in the Round of 32 in 2005 in the only previous meeting between the leagues.
*The Badgers are in their 16th straight NCAA Tournament and have equaled the highest seed in school history.
*American and Wisconsin are meeting for the first time.
*The winner will face the winner of a game between No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 10 BYU in the third round on Saturday.

AMERICAN The Eagles are in the field after winning the Patriot League title with a 55-36 victory at Boston University in the League Championship on Wednesday...American was the second seed in the Patriot League Tournament after going 13-5 in League play during the regular season.... American led from start to finish in the decisive victory in the title game...American held the Terriers to the lowest point total in Patriot League Championship game history and limited BU to 16-of-52 (30.8%) from the field and just 1-of-17 from three-point range in the game...American, which was picked ninth in the Patriot League preseason poll, also became the first team to hold all three of its League Tournament opponents to 50 points or less.. Darius Gardner led the Eagles with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and dished out four assists, and was named Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player...Tony Wroblicky and Jesse Reed joined him on the All-Tournament Team...The Eagles have reached the 20-win mark for the third time in four years and fifth in the last seven seasons.

NIT - First Round

Illinois Fighting Illini (19-14, 7-11 B10) at Boston Univ. Terriers (24-10, 15-3)
Agganis Arena; Boston, Mass. - Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Tim Welsh)
Coverage: WatchESPN | GameTracker | NIT Bracket
*Boston University hosts Illinois in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
*The contest can be seen on ESPN2 with Sean McDonough and Tim Welsh calling the action.
*Boston University goes for its first win in the NIT, as the Terriers fell in appearances in 1980, 1986, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
*Each of the three Patriot League teams to play in the NIT has won its first-round game.
*Fordham (1991), Holy Cross (2005) and Bucknell (2012) all won their openers in the tourney.
*It is just the second time that a Patriot League team has hosted an NIT game.
*The teams are meeting for the first time.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY The Terriers, who won the regular-season title in the Patriot League with a 15-3 record, earned a No. 7 seed in their NIT bracket and will take on the No. 2 Fighting Illini...Boston University will host the game because of renovations taking place at State Farm Center in Champaign, the home of the Illini...Boston University will be making its sixth appearance in the NIT...Each of the previous five contests was played on the road as BU hosts a postseason game for the first time since 2010 when it defeated Morehead State during the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI)...The Terriers are in the postseason for the fourth time in five years, previously appearing in the CBI (2010), NCAA Tournament (2011) and CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) (2013)...BU can tie a school record with a victory by earning its 25th win of the year, matching the mark from 1996-97.