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Patriot League announces basketball plans; Army and Navy allowed to pursue non-conference

The Patriot League will play a league-only schedule in men’s and women’s basketball, but Army and Navy can play non-conference contests.

NCAA Basketball: Army at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Army and Navy might have an advantage in men’s and women’s basketball in the Patriot League this season.

The league announced plans for the upcoming season on Monday, declaring that it will play a league-only schedule beginning on Jan. 2. However, the Patriot League seems to trust Army and Navy’s safety protocols in the pandemic and will allow the two institutions to pursue non-conference games.

A release from the conference said: “Because Army and Navy are unique in their environments and their missions within higher education, their pursuit of non-League competition, as considered appropriate by their respective Superintendents, is permitted.”

In Navy’s case, some of the Mids’ opponents have already announced games. The women’s team — under the direction of head coach Tim Taylor — will play road games at George Mason (Nov. 29) and William & Mary (Dec. 13). The men’s team will host George Washington for the Veterans’ Classic and they will also play in a multi-team even at the University of Maryland. The men will also host Morgan State on Dec. 16.

So, by the time the league schedule rolls around, the Mids and Black Knights should have the rust shaken off and have a decent idea of what their team looks like. The other Patriot League teams will still be figuring that out in January.

The league schedule for the Patriot League was built in a way to reduce travel and overnight stays. All road trips will be made via bus or train, as no team is permitted to fly.

To make this happen, the 10 Patriot League schools were divided into three regional mini-conferences. Also, schools will play against opponents on consecutive days.

For example, the Navy women will play at Bucknell on Jan. 2, then host them on Jan. 3.

Navy is in a pod with American and Loyola, while Army is in a pod with Boston, Colgate and Holy Cross.

While they aren’t in the same pod, Army and Navy will play each other four times. The women’s match-ups are set for Jan. 23 and 24 at Army, and Feb. 20 and 21 at Navy. The men’s games are on the same dates, but at opposite locations.

The Patriot League tournament will feature eight teams and be played March 6 through March 14.