- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday, Sunday and March 13

PLAYER TO WATCH

Garrison Carr, American

Teammate Derrick Mercer deserved league player of the year honors, but Carr is as likely as anyone to score 25 in a crucial game. The senior leads the Patriot League in 3-pointers (95) and ranks second in scoring (17.5) behind Navy’s Kaleo Kina. AU likely would turn to Carr if it needs a late shot to extend its season.

BEST BET

American

The Eagles were the preseason favorites and lived up to the expectations once conference play arrived. AU boasts arguably the league’s best backcourt with Mercer and Carr, and it will enjoy the benefit of remaining at Bender Arena for the entirety of the league tournament. The top seed has won this tournament five of the last six years.

DARK HORSE

Navy

The Midshipmen are capable of beating any team in the league but also of losing to any team. They are 11-5 in games decided by six points or less. While that can’t have a calming effect on coach Billy Lange, it’s unlikely Navy will be an easy out for anyone. Kina and Chris Harris are dangerous presences on the wings, and the uptempo Mids will be a headache if they have a good shooting night.

MOST TO GAIN

Holy Cross

The Crusaders are considered one of the Patriot League’s elite programs because of their success this decade, but they have reached only one NCAA tournament since their PL three-peat in 2003. It’s a typical Holy Cross team - rugged, physical and committed to defense - and capable of springing the upset needed to win a league title.

WHO’S HOT

American

After a so-so start, AU has won 16 of 17 since Christmas to emerge as the team most thought it could be this season. The Eagles haven’t lost since a Jan. 24 visit to Holy Cross but paid back the Crusaders with a 56-50 win at Bender Arena last month. AU’s 10-game winning streak is the school’s longest since 1982.

WHO’S NOT

Colgate

The Red Raiders stayed afloat for much of the season, only to lose their final five regular-season games to earn a second trip to Annapolis in less than a week. Colgate has lost its last seven on the road, and before last year’s run to the title game, it lost in the quarterfinal six times in the last seven tournaments. To make matters worse, Colgate absorbed two double-digit defeats against Navy this year.

-Patrick Stevens

SCHEDULE

Quarterfinals, Wednesday

(6) Colgate (9-19, 5-9) at (3) Navy (19-10, 8-6), 7

(7) Bucknell (7-22, 4-10) at (2) Holy Cross (16-13, 11-3), 7

(5) Lehigh (15-13, 5-9) at (4) Army (10-18, 6-8), 7

(8) Lafayette (8-21, 4-10) at (1) American (21-7, 13-1), 7:30

Semifinals, Sunday at highest seed

AU/Lafayette vs. Army/Lehigh

Holy Cross/Bucknell vs. Navy/Colgate

Final, March 13 at highest seed

Semifinal winners, 4:45 p.m., ESPN2

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