Bucknell to become the new Butler?
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
LEXINGTON, Ky. — How the college basketball world turns. The first game at this NCAA tournament site Thursday will feature an upset bid against that bully from the New Big East.
The Bulldogs are going Broadway, meaning they have to turn in their Plucky March Upstart club cards by noon Thursday, so that title can be transferred to their opponent.
Which brings us to Bucknell.
As affable-but-highly-dangerous underdogs go, the Bison remind you of … well, Butler. They start three seniors. All have more than 1,100 career points, all are on the dean’s list, all had to make the decision to leave home and gather at a school in central Pennsylvania.
There’s star Mike Muscala from Minnesota. Leads the nation in double-doubles with 22. Joe Willman from New Jersey. This will be his 134th game for Bucknell. “We obviously don’t want it to end,” he said. “I think that gives us more motivation.”
And Bryson Johnson from Lyons Brook, Nova Scotia.
“Less than a thousand people,” he was saying Wednesday before practice at Rupp Arena. “Not a lot going on there. Just a lot of farmland.”
His grasp of Bucknell’s location when his recruiting started? “I had no idea.”
So Bucknell will do as potential darlings.
“I can appreciate (the irony),” Butler’s Brad Stevens said. “What made me fall in love with the tournament were the teams like Bucknell, or the teams like Butler, or the teams like Davidson, all the way down the line. People in basketball circles know. There’s a reason they don’t schedule them in the preseason.”
Really, it’s hard not to like Bucknell. Coach Dave Paulsen was asked if he planned on any new clothing additions for the big television event.
“I have two suits and I alternate them and if we lose, the tie goes out the window,” he said. “So no.”