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Service Academy Basketball Update: Heading into Week Two of Conference Play

The Mids and Cadets (times two) Finish their first games of conference play with a Combined Record of 1-2

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Army (5-9, 0-1 Patriot League)

Army blew a 24-point halftime lead to lose 64-63 to the Bucknell Bison in arguably the most heartbreaking game of the week for service academy basketball. The Cadets must quickly put that loss behind them as they have three more games this coming week, two of which are on the road.

The Lafayette Leopards head to Christl Arena in West Point, having lost six out of the last seven matchups, hoping to end a two game skid. The Leopard lead the Black Knights in every statistical category except steals and assists per game. Army is on a three game skid of their own, but they are .500 at home this season. Army should be pretty eager to make up for that Bucknell loss and 3-9 Lafayette is showing up at the right time.

The Black Knights will head to Boston to face off against the Terriers of BU for their second matchup of the next week. The Terriers are .500 on the season but they are pretty evenly matched on a per game basis. Army has a slight edge on points per game, but Boston University has a much higher field goal percentage. The Terriers have lost just one game at Case Gym this season, so this looks to be Army’s toughest matchup of the week.

Army will travel to Baltimore to cap-off its two game road trip and face off against the Loyola Greyhounds. The Greyhounds are 4-10 on the season but statistically matchup closely against the Black Knights on a per game basis. Three of their four wins have come at home however, which gives Loyola a slight edge in this matchup.

NET Rank (as of 1/4): 276

Games this week: 1/5 vs. Lafayette, 1/10 at Boston University, 1/12 at Loyola

Team Leaders: PPG - Matt Wilson 14.9; RPG - Wilson 8.1; APG - Funk 6.4; SPG – Josh Caldwell 1.1

Navy (4-8, 1-0 Patriot League)

Navy fended off a late second half comeback from the Raiders of Colgate at home in Alumni Hall earlier this week. The Mids also have three games coming up in the next week, two at home and one on the road; they will look for just their second back-to-back win of the season tomorrow against Holy Cross.

Holy Cross is 10-4 on the season, and in the middle of a four game winning streak, including their last two on the road, so they won’t be intimidated by a matchup in Alumni Hall. Holy Cross dominates Navy across the board statistically, with the exception of collecting boards, where Navy has a significant advantage. Either way, when it’s league play, you can expect a different level from all involved. Both teams are coming off wins in their first conference matchups, but I give the edge to Holy Cross in this one.

Navy takes a trip 40 miles down the road to American University, in Washington D.C., for their only road game of the week, and their third Patriot League matchup of the season. American is 7-5 on the year and they also lead Navy in all statistical categories with the exception of rebounds. American is no joke, with four of their five losses coming by a margin of six or fewer points. I think Navy has a better shot at walking out of the (very) short road trip with the W than the odds makers will give them, but it is a tough matchup regardless.

Boston University gets the privilege of facing off against two service academies this week, in back-to-back matchups no less. After hosting Army West Point on Thursday, the Terriers will make a road trip down to Annapolis for a Saturday matchup. Once again the only Category the Mids a lead in this one are on the boards. Don’t take that for grated, because an ability to beat an opponent on the boards has a much larger impact on the final score than you may realize. This matchup is the Mids best chance for a victory over the next week, but even if they end up going 1-2, or 2-1, they will still look good in Patriot League standings.

NET Rank (as of 1/4): 266

Games this week: 1/6 vs. Holy Cross; 1/10 at American; 1/12 Boston University

Team Leaders: PPG – Kiernan 12.2; RPG - Carter, Jr. 5.5; APG – Abdullah 3.4; SPG - Abdullah 1.9

Air Force (5-8, 0-1 Mountain West)

The Falcons have split their last two matchups against UC Riverside and the University of New Mexico. Sure Air Force is three games under .500 right now, but they have been competitive along the way, including some tough matchups against now #2 Michigan and service academy rival Army.

The Utah State Aggies are 10-4 on the year, with only one loss at home in Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Aggies dominate the Falcons in every statistical category with the exception of field goal percentage, by which Air Force leads by less than one percentage point. Make no mistake, the Falcons tough schedule is not getting any easier in the near future. To make matters worse, Air Force has yet to win a game on the road this season. No matter how you slice it, Logan, Utah is not the place you want to start a two game road trip; it’s going to be a tough one for the Falcons.

Fortunately for Air Force, the second road game is back in their home state against the Rams of Colorado State. Another thing the Falcons have going for them is the fact that the Rams are in the middle of a four game losing streak. The Cadets aren’t exactly walking into a “gimmie” either, though, as the Rams lead them in most categories, and the ones in which the Falcons lead are negligible. As I mentioned earlier, however, records and statistics go out the window once conference play starts, and the Falcons definitely have a good shot at the W in Moby Arena.

Air Force returns to Clune Arena in Colorado Springs next Saturday to face San Diego State. The Aztecs are 8-5 on the season and have won three out of their last four, but have yet to face a Mountain West opponent. Luckily the Falcons matchup against the Aztecs very nicely in most categories with the exception of points per game, where San Diego State has a solid advantage. This one is a toss up for me, but since it’s a home game for Air Force, I am giving the Falcons the edge; and they end the three-game-week at 1-2.

NET Rank (as of 1/4): 262

Games this week: 1/5 at Utah State; 1/9 at Colorado State; 1/12 San Diego State

Team Leaders: PPG – Scottie 12.6; RPG – Swan 5.8; APG – Sid Tomes 2.8; SPG- Brown1.0