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Patriot League Men's Basketball Championships, 5PM Today

I always enjoy watching the Patriot League men's championship game every year. Colgate faces American this afternoon (5:00PM, ESPN2) to determine who will be going to the big dance.

I love watching it, even if Lehigh's not involved. There's something about watching the game, in a real arena with approachable players. There simply is something soul-sucking watching the ACC quarterfinals, where the sixth-best team is hoping to make the tournament with a late run with uber-talented players who have underperformed most of the year. Contrast the game on ESPN2 before ours - the Miami/Virginia Tech game - to the Patriot League championship, and the difference couldn't be more stark.

(You'll probably get a chance to watch this game, unfortunately - if history is any guide, no matter how insurmountable the lead, ESPN2 will probably again pre-empt the beginning of the Patriot League final to televise the agonizing end of the quarterfinal game. Ever feel like a second-class citizen?)

It's on at a good time - right after work ends, I can rush home and watch the best teams in our league duke it out. This year, it's a surprising 18-13 Colgate team (who were very fortunate to squeak into the #3 seed) taking on the strongest team this year in 21-11 American. G Kyle Roemer has taken his Raiders on his back (16.2 PPG) and has simply been putting away his shots. He'll face a very tough challenge with American's great backcourt in Garrison Carr (18.2 PPG) and Derrick Mercer (12.7 PPG, 4.2 APG).

Key will be turnovers. Both teams have not always done a good job protecting the ball. And then there's the intangibles. American has come oh-so-close year in and year out for their first-ever Patriot League crown, but fallen heartbreakingly short year after year (including a loss to Lehigh in 2004).

I'll be watching.

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