Predicted order of finish
4. Holy Cross
Surprise team: Army. The Black Knights might not crack the top half of the league or even register their first winning season since 1985. But Army has nearly its entire rotation back from last season, including leading scorer Ella Ellis.
Hot seat: None. Both Colgate and Navy have second-year coaches who are clearly in a rebuilding process. But an opening could come if Lehigh's Brett Reed is wooed by larger programs at season's end.
Three key players
F Ella Ellis, Army. The 6-foot-7 senior ranked third in the league in scoring (17.5 points a game) a year ago and might be the best player in the Patriot besides its last two players of the year.
G C.J. McCollum, Lehigh. A household name after dropping 30 points on Duke in the NCAA tournament, McCollum is back for a final season after averaging 21.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a junior.
C Mike Muscala, Bucknell. Few players nationally can control games in their conferences quite like Muscala, who averaged 17.0 points last year and was the Patriot player of the year in 2010-11.
Three key newcomers
G Cullen Hamilton, Holy Cross. The Potomac (Va.) High School product brings a reputation as a potent outside shooter, a trait likely to secure him an important place in the Crusaders' rotation.
F Dom Hoffman, Bucknell. An impressive rebounder in high school, Hoffman should emerge as an immediate complement to Muscala and senior Joe Willman in the Bison's frontcourt.
F Stephen Lumpkins, American. Not so much a newcomer as a guy who boomeranged back to Tenleytown, Lumpkins' return to the Eagles greatly improves their chances of contending with Bucknell and Lehigh for the league crown.
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