Our next team is one from the Patriot Conference, a league that is only going to get one bid—but it could be a deadly one.
The American Eagles dominated this conference last year, going 10-4 for an overall 21-11 record heading into tournament play.
While they only received a 15 seed, their date with Tennessee in the first round proved to be a near scare. Returning 5'11" senior Garrison Carr (17.4 ppg) went for 27 points, which included six threes, in a 15-point loss.
The Tennessee loss was far from disappointing and just showed how dangerous a confident, strong shooting team can be.
The Eagles have every right to be, seeing how they return their top three scorers from last season in an offense that converts on 52.7 percent of their two-point field goals.
Carr, Gilmore, and Mercer, all seniors, combine for 41 points, almost 64 percent of the total scoring output, and they sit atop the Patriot League with a lofty 7-1 record.
Part of the reason that the Eagles are so successful is their efficiency on offense. They currently lead the conference in both field goal percentage and three-point shooting at 46.5 percent and 36.4 percent respectively, and they are never intimidated by big conference schools.
They also flaunt a 7-1 home record, and while they do not have a marquee win this season, they are likely to get the automatic bid if they can dispose of Holy Cross, who handed them their only loss in conference play. Mark that date folks: Feb. 21 at 2pm.
Unfortunately, the Eagles are on pace for another ugly seed in the tournament. Blowout losses at Oklahoma and Georgetown won’t help their case (even though they weren’t expected to win), and at most, they could get lucky with a 13 seed.
But that won’t stop the Eagles from giving many fans a scare and thoughts of an early exit. They did it last year to Tennessee in what was expected to be a blowout, and with virtually the same team returning, are easily capable of actually pulling it off this year.
Watch those crazy Eagles fly this year, and be sure to keep an eye on them in the remainder of the season. The hot shooting, conference dominant teams are always the most dangerous, and American can certainly keep up with the best.
This article is also featured on www.thebracketbusters.com.