In the 10th installment of our 20ish-part series, Get to Know an Auto-Bid, we examine the Bucknell Bison.
Again, this series is meant to tempt you into picking ill-advised upsets in the first round – history does not remember the timid.
Bucknell clinched their seventh trip to the Big Dance with an 81-65 victory over Lehigh in the Patriot League Championship Game, Wednesday.
The Mountain Hawks kept the game close and only trailed by one at halftime, but the Bison used a 12-0 to start the second half to break the game open.
The win was sweet on two accounts for Bucknell because Lehigh had bested the Bison twice in the regular season and BU was also the No. 1 seed a season ago, but lost in triple overtime in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Holy Cross.
The Patriot League champions have had their fair share of success in the tournament and the Bison are responsible for two of the most memorable moments in league history.
The most notable victory came in the first round of the 2005 tournament when 13-seeded Bucknell upset Kansas 64-63. The Bison also registered a win the following year when they topped Arkansas 59-55 in an 8-9 first round matchup.
The Bison’s last tournament appearance came in 2013 where they fell to Butler in the first round as a 11-seed.
Bucknell finished the season with a 26-8 overall record and a 15-3 conference mark. Bucknell clinched the regular season crown and homecourt throughout the conference championship.
The Bison’s best win of the season came at Vanderbilt, a team currently on the bubble for an at-large birth. Bucknell had mixed results against the other quality teams on their schedule. The Bison lost by two to likely Ivy League champion Princeton, but were blown out by Wake Forest and Butler early in the season.
Zach Thomas leads Bucknell with 16 points per game, while Patriot League Player of the Year Nana Foulland is a force on both ends of the court. The junior averages 15 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game.
The Bison have the perfect recipe for an upset in March – a veteran squad and strong guard play. The Otter Room official bracket projections have Bucknell slotted for a 13-seed and they have the potential to reach the second weekend with the right set of matchups.