The Colgate Raiders have turned into a dynasty in the Patriot League. Can they finally break through and win an NCAA Tournament game?
In case you’ve been living under a rock the last few college basketball seasons, you should know by now that Colgate practically runs New York state. The Raiders have earned the last four Patriot League automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, and have even topped Syracuse in non-conference games the last two years. Simply put, Matt Langel has created nothing short of a dynasty in little ‘ole Hamilton, New York.
What makes the Colgate Raiders click so much? Langel has a simple, yet effective style of basketball, and recruits for that. The Raiders jack up, and make a lot – and I mean a LOT – of three pointers. It’s a team that doesn’t shy away from shooting too many threes. It’s their brand, and they own it.
This year’s version of Colgate is also well-rounded. They’re led by Keegan Records, a versatile forward who will not back down of competition. In Colgate’s NCAA Tournament loss to Texas, Records found his way to 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Records won’t have his sidekick Tucker Richardson anymore, but rising sophomore Braeden Smith will be a name to watch. As a freshman, he took control of the Raiders’ offense, averaging over four assists per game. He could be in for a very big year with his first taste of college hoops now under his belt.
Aside from Richardson, Colgate only lost one other key player, returning the rest of their 26-win group. That means Ryan Moffatt, Chandler Baker, and Jeff Woodward are all back, giving Langel a skilled and experienced squad to try and make some history.
A laundry list of freshmen also join the squad, and one or two are sure to crack the rotation in minimal roles at some point during the season.
Colgate has never won an NCAA Tournament game in six tries, but 2024 March Madness might be the time for it.
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Head coach: Matt Langel (13th season, all at Colgate)
2022-23 record: 26-9 (17-1)
2023 postseason finish: Lost to Texas, 81-61, in first round of NCAA Tournament
Notable departures: Tucker Richardson (Professional), Oliver Lynch-Daniels (Graduated)
Notable non-conference games: vs. Syracuse (Nov. 14), vs. Yale (Nov. 17), at Illinois (Nov. 27), @ Iona (Dec. 21)
PG: Braeden Smith (6-0, 180, So.)
2022-23 stats: 11.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 36.1 3P%
SG: Chandler Baker (6-5, 185, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.1 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.3 APG, 42.3 3P%, 12.3 MPG
SF: Ryan Moffatt (6-7, 220, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 10.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45.3 3P%, 52.3 FG%
PF: Sam Thomson (6-9, 230, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 4.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.4 APG
C: Keegan Records (6-10, 250, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 13.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 67.5 FG%
6: Jeff Woodward (6-11, 270, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 6.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 58.9 FG%
7: Kyle Carlesimo (6-2, 180, So.)
2022-23 stats: 4.0 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.5 APG (Eastern Illinois)
8: Nicolas Louis-Jacques (6-4, 195, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 1.9 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.2 APG
Colgate Raiders MVP: Keegan Records
The 6-10 Records is a post-player in a Colgate Raiders offense that mostly relies on shots from outside the perimeter. At 6-10 and 250 pounds, Records has the size to dominate in the Patriot League and match up against power conference schools.
Don’t let his post play fool you. While scoring around the rim is his go-to, Records is also a good passer out of the post, which is important when double teams come his way. While he doesn’t really stretch the floor, Records will make cuts to the basket and run in transition, which speaks to his versatility as a big man.
Defensively, Records makes plays, both contesting shots and pulling down rebounds. He’s an all-around player, despite being a bit of a traditional big man. He’s what makes college basketball still fun to watch, not compromising to the trend of the game, yet still dominating inside.
Colgate Raiders make-or-break player: Kyle Carlesimo
Carlesimo likely won’t be needed to score a lot of buckets, but he will be called upon to be the backup point guard to Smith.
A transfer from Eastern Illinois, Carlesimo showed skills in his freshman year, becoming a key rotation player. He decided to transfer to the Raiders, which gives him a shot at being an important player on a team that could be playing late in March.
It’ll be an important role for Carlesimo, the son of former coach P.J. Carlesimo. Basketball clearly runs deep in his family, and Kyle is looking to make a name for himself. P.J. is a lot to live up to, but that’s not the goal here. If Kyle can come in and hold down the fort off the bench, it’ll be music to Matt Langel’s ears.
Key analytic: 3P%
This one’s as easy as any team profile I’ve researched in CBB Rank this year. The Colgate Raiders finished last season first in the nation in 3P%. Matt Langel’s bunch shot it at 40.3% as a team and they figure to be around the same amount this year.
Losing Lynch-Daniels (49.7%) will hurt somewhat, but Moffatt (45.3%), Baker (42.3%), and Smith (36.1%) will help to continue to attack from deep. Baker in particular should be in for a bigger role in the starting lineup, and could gain more of a green light. Smith is in the same boat, as a sophomore with even more control of the offense, and more of a nod to let it fly.
It’s also Colgate’s game. Last season wasn’t some fluke. Sure, hitting the 40% mark as a team is incredible, but the Raiders practice that type of basketball, and surely won’t have much of a big drop-off.
Colgate Raiders 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 1st in Patriot League
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32