Bracket Briefing: Bucknell on Cinderella radar
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Team of the week: Bucknell (16-3, 3-0 Patriot League)
Bucknell’s Mike Muscala remembers watching the game jealous.
C.J. McCollum and Lehigh became the NCAA tournament’s darling after upsetting Duke in the first round last year.
“It was good for the conference and the national spotlight, but as a competitor, you want that to be you,” said Muscala, one of the nation’s most underrated big men. “Last year, Lehigh beat us fair and square (in the Patriot League Tournament), but that’s fueled us a lot this year.”
Now Bucknell will get a chance to stamp itself as the best team in the Patriot League when it plays a McCollum-less Lehigh team tonight (6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports). Muscala said he chose to play for Bucknell partially for the team’s notoriety after upsetting Kansas in 2005. This year, Bucknell and not Lehigh, could be wearing a glass slipper in the Big Dance.
Projected NCAA tournament seed: No. 11 seed. Bucknell has only lost three games all season and had an above average non-conference schedule with key wins against Purdue, George Mason and Kent State. And if there’s such a thing as a good loss, that’s what Bucknell had against Missouri, only falling by two in a Jan. 5 road game. Bucknell’s 39 RPI should go up with a win against Lehigh. But without an automatic bid, this team won’t have a storybook ending.
Top 10 team Bucknell would excel/struggle against: Bucknell would cause fits for No. 3 Michigan with its edge on second-chance opportunities. The Bison became the first team to out-rebound Missouri, the nation’s leader in rebounds at the time, thanks to Muscala and Co. crashing the boards constantly. This team forces the third most turnovers in the nation, too. Bucknell would struggle against No. 7 Florida‘s athletic, aggressive big men, which has proven to be Muscala’s kryptonite in losses to Princeton and Penn State. Bucknell would also play well against Kansas as many might argue Muscala is Jeff Withey without the national spotlight.
Name to know: Muscala. … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Bucknell's on the Cinderella radar, click here.]