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Patriot League championship preview, game time, how to watch

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American and Lafayette square off for the only automatic bid on the line today.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

American at Lafayette, Patriot League (7:30pm, CBSSN)

How did they get here: these are not the top teams in the Patriot League. Lafayette earned the 4 seed and trounced 5 seed Boston U in the first round before outplaying top seed Bucknell to make the final. American was the 6 seed and had to beat 3 seed Lehigh and 2 seed Colgate to get to the championship game. Neither of these teams is a threat to pilfer an at-large bid; the best win between them is probably American's OT win at La Salle. American won both meetings in the regular season, by two at Lafayette and by eleven at home.

Strategic info: much like early 2004 Juvenile, American likes it in slow motion. They play the second-slowest tempo in the nation and have the longest offensive possessions. They're 337th in the nation in OReb% because they send most of the team back to prevent the fast break. They do shoot the ball pretty well from inside and outside the arc and aren't shy about lifting from deep. Lafayette's defense is 337th in the country and - other than avoiding sending opponents to the line - is bad at everything. Their offense is really good though. They're 2nd in the country in 3P% at 41.1% as a team. They also shoot 52.6% from inside the arc and rarely turn the ball over. American's defense focuses on forcing turnovers and running opponents off the arc, so this should be an interesting matchup.

Players to watch: for Lafayette, senior big man Dan Trist is the hub of the offense and a dominant interior scorer. Seth Hinrichs is a stretch four who rebounds well and shoots 38.3% from beyond the arc. Five-eleven PG Nick Lindner has a sterling 32.6% assist rate in conference play and has connect on 38.8% of his threes. American only goes about 6 deep and has 4 of the top 5 players in the conference in minutes. Forward Jesse Reed is their top man, a flex four who shot 32.4% from deep in conference. John Schoof is another 6'5" forward who can score from anywhere, and 5'9" point guard Darius Gardner leads the team in assist rate but struggles with ball security.