Coach: Jeff Jones. Thirteenth season, 202-162; 348-266 overall
Last season: 20-12, lost in CIT first round
Key player: G Daniel Munoz. Others will provide more scoring, but Munoz can call upon three seasons worth of experiences that weren’t always smooth to keep the Eagles on track. With American’s top two scorers gone, more will be asked of its veteran point guard.
Biggest loss: G/F Charles Hinkle. There’s no easy replacement for the Eagles’ top scorer (18.4 points a game) and second-leading rebounder (5.4 per game). Then again, who saw Hinkle’s transformation from reserve to all-conference player coming at this time last year?
Top newcomer: G Austin Carroll. The sophomore received both a medical hardship waiver and immediate eligibility after his transfer from Rutgers. He’ll help offset the loss of Blake Jolivette for the season to injury.
Best case: The Eagles are just fine without Hinkle and Troy Brewer and become an effective post-centric team with the return of Stephen Lumpkins and the continued maturation of junior center Tony Wroblicky. If anyone has a chance to win the Patriot besides Bucknell or Lehigh, it’s American.
Worst case: There are too many pieces here to expect a significant fall-off from last season’s third-place finish in the Patriot. But it’s possible American struggles to score just enough that the gap between the top two in the league and the Eagles grows a bit wider and pushes another 20-win season out of reach.
Dec. 29 at Kansas. On general principle, a trip to play at Allen Fieldhouse qualifies as a highlight of anyone’s season, including an Eagles bunch facing only two other power-conference foes (Minnesota and Georgetown).
Jan. 16 vs. Lehigh. The Eagles’ first home conference game is against one of last year’s NCAA tournament darlings. The Mountain Hawks bring back star guard C.J. McCollum.
Feb. 27 at Bucknell. American plays its final two regular-season games on the road, including this trip to central Pennsylvania. The Bison won last year’s two meetings by a combined 11 points.