Basketball season is here, and the Service Academies will have their fair share of chances to turn some heads. With three games on national television and others in standalone situations, it should be a fun opening week of basketball.
SUNY New Paltz at Army — 7:30 p.m. EST (ESPN+)
Navy at Virginia — 9 p.m. EST (ACC Network)
Air Force vs. South Dakota — 3:30 p.m. EST (ESPN+)
Army at Duke — 7 p.m. EST (ACC Network)
Virginia Tech at Navy — 8:30 p.m. EST (CBS Sports Network)
Air Force at Tulsa — 2 p.m. EST (ESPN+)
Hartford vs. Army (Durham, N.C.) — 2:30 p.m. EST (ESPN+)
The Midshipmen will look to defend its 2021 Patriot League title but will have to do so without first-team All-Patriot League member and leading scorer, Cam Davis.
Outside of him, 2021 Patriot League Coach of the Year Ed DeChellis returns his next seven leading scorers, including John Carter and Greg Summers who both averaged double-digit points last season.
Also returning is big man Richard Njoku, who was a key piece to such a strong offensive rebounding team last season. The 6-foot-7 center averaged 4.2 rebounds per game last season, along with a strong 65.4% field goal percentage. A lot of his points came from inside the paint.
Navy will look to make it three consecutive Veterans Classic wins as they host Virginia Tech on Friday.
Returning its leading scorer from a CBI team a season ago, Jimmy Allen will look to navigate a young team towards the top of the Patriot League again.
The defensive-minded team held its opponents to less than 70 points in more than half of their games last season and are led by 2021 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Josh Caldwell. Along with his defensive prowess, the senior from Columbia, South Carolina led the team with 12.6 points per game.
Tagging along with him in the backcourt is sophomore Jalen Rucker, who was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team a year ago.
On Friday, Army will help Mike Krzyzewski — one of its most famous alums — begin his farewell tour at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Coming off a tough 5-20 season, Joe Scott will continue his second stint at the Air Force Academy after bringing the program to an NCAA Tournament in 2004. This is a massive rebuild for Scott.
Returning for the Falcons is leading scorer A.J. Walker and key contributor Nikc Jackson, but not much more. The roster has just two seniors in Walker and Abe Kinrade, and the rest are sophomores and juniors.
The Falcons begin their season with trips to South Dakota and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It should be a fun season for the academies in basketball. Navy fell just short of making the NCAA tournament a season ago. Neither team has made the tournament since 2006, when Air Force last went. Army has never been, and Navy hasn’t gone since 1998. Perhaps that’ll change in a season that shouldn’t be altered by the pandemic.