Bucknell Bison

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Introducing Cinderella: The Bucknell Bison are headed to the NCAA tournament

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Conference: Patriot League

Coach: Nathan Davis

Record: 26-8 (15-3 1st)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 81
RPI: 65
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: A respectable RPI should keep Bucknell off the two bottom seed lines and on to something in the 14 range.

Names you need to know: Nana Foulland, and not just because it’s an awesome name. The 6-foot-9 junior is putting up 14.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting a scintillating 62.7 percent from the floor. Zach Thomas is Bucknell’s leading scorer at 16 points per game, and he also averages 6.5 boards per outing. Kimbal Mackenzie and Stephen Brown both average in double figures scoring.

Stats you need to know: The Bison’s overall strength of schedule would give them the look of cupcake killers, but if you dig a little deeper, it’s reason to think they might be able to pull off an upset. Sure, overall, it’s ranked 313th by KenPom in the country, but that was drug down by a Patriot League that didn’t offer a ton of resistance. In the non-con, Bucknell ranked in the upper half of the country in strength of schedule. It wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row, but the Bison were tested.

Big wins, bad losses: Bucknell topped Vanderbilt and Richmond in the non-conference, but a loss to Loyola (Md.) is a significant blip on the radar.

How’d they get here?: The Bison beat Army in the Patriot League opener and followed that up with a win against Navy. In the league title game, Bucknell held just a one-point halftime advantage over Lehigh, but outscored the Mountain Hawks by 15 in the second half to cruise to third NCAA tournament in the last six years.

Outlook: Bucknell has shown it can play with bigger programs this season, and a one-two punch of Thomas and Foulland is formidable, as is having a supporting cast like Mackenzie and Brown. The Bison could be a tricky out for a Power 5 team sneaking a peak to later in the week.

How do I know you?: Sorry, Kansas fans.

Patriot League Preview: Can anyone catch Lehigh?

Lehigh forward Tim Kempton, AP Photo
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Patriot League.

The Patriot League is a conference with many familiar faces in 2015-16, which should make for a competitive race, one that could involve a handful of teams.

Lehigh should be pegged as the preseason favorite. The Mountain Hawks bring back four starters, none bigger than Tim Kempton, the 6-foot-10 junior who took home Patriot League Player of the Year honors last season. Kempton is joined by Kahron Ross, a playmaking point guard who led the league in assists, and Austin Price, the team’s second leading scorer from a season ago. Justin Goldsborough adds some support on the frontline, but the Lehigh back court took a hit this fall with Brandon Alston tore his ACL.

After seven seasons and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances, Dave Paulsen left Bucknell for George Mason. Nathan Davis, a former Bucknell assistant, steps into a good situation with four starters back from a team that won the regular season title in 2014-15. Chris Hass is one of the more gifted scorers in the league and anchors the perimeter, which includes Ryan Frazier and Stephen Brown. Nana Foulland, a 6-foot-9 forward who started every game last season, could be in for a monster sophomore campaign.

Boston University and Army both have their entire starting fives back from a season ago. The Black Knights didn’t have the season in envisioned, but the duo of Kyle Wilson, who has led the league in scoring at 17.5 points per game, and forward Tanner Plomb, who scored in double figures in all but three league games, can skyrocket them up the Patriot League standings. The Terriers have two double-digit scorers of their own in Cedric Hankerson and Eric Fanning. BU’s supporting cast should be more comfortable in their roles this season. Hankerson, who is recovering from an ACL tear, could be back in December, Joe Jones told ESPN.

Jesse Reed will attempt to lead American to another Patriot League Tournament title game (winning in 2014, losing in 2015), but he’ll have to do so without Pee-Wee Gardner. The Eagles could benefit from transfers Paris Maragkos and Leon Tolksdorf. Lafayette, the reigning champion, will likely take a step back, but guards Nick Lindner and Bryce Scott could keep things interesting in league play.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

COACH’S TAKE

  • Favorite: “I would say Lehigh. Anytime you bring back the player of the year, it’ll obviously give you an advantage. Having him (Tim Kempton) along with the rookie of the year, Kahron Ross, I think those two are one of the best tandems in the league.”
  • Sleeper: “Colgate. With some of the guys they had sitting out, I’d probably say them. They’re going to be so different compared to what they had last season. With so many new faces those guys will come in and provide meaningful stuff for them right away.”
  • Star to watch: “To me, it’ll be Kyle Wilson. In our league, he’s one of the most talented scorers. He can score in so many different ways.”

PRESEASON PATRIOT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tim Kempton, Lehigh

The reigning Patriot League Player of the Year returns following a sophomore campaign averaging 15.3 points and a league-high 8.7 boards per game. Not many can handle the 6-foot-10 big man on the block. Adding to the mismatch, Kempton can also do damage with his mid-range game. Kempton and point guard Kahron Ross make for a lethal one-two punch in the Patriot League.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM:

  • Chris Hass, Bucknell: Ten times Hass went for 20 or more. Six happened in league play. Two more happened in back-to-back games: 21 against Michigan and 32 vs. Villanova.
  • Nick Lindner, Lafayette: The Patriot League Tournament MVP averaged 12.5 points, 5.2 assists per game.
  • Jesse Reed, American: The Eagles may be relying on new pieces this season, but they will expect the same offensive production from Reed, who averaged double figures in each of the last two seasons. The 6-foot-5 guard was a marathon man for American in 2014-15, never coming off the floor in 16 games.
  • Kyle Wilson, Army: The 6-foot-4 senior led the league in scoring the past two seasons.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @PL_MBB

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Lehigh
2. Bucknell
3. Boston University
4. Army
5. American
6. Lafayette
7. Colgate
8. Holy Cross
9. Loyola (Md.)
10. Navy

Bucknell announces hiring of former assistant Nathan Davis as head coach

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Bucknell has found its replacement for Dave Paulsen, who left the program last month to become the head coach at George Mason. Sunday evening the school announced the hiring of Nathan Davis, who makes his return to Bucknell after serving as the head coach at Randolph Macon for the last six seasons.

Prior to taking his first head coaching job Davis was an assistant at Bucknell from 2003-08, and during that period the program won NCAA tournament games in 2005 (vs. No. 3 Kansas) and 2006 (vs. No. 8 Arkansas) and also achieved its first ever Top 25 ranking during the 2005-06 season. With Davis returning, Bucknell will look to remain a major player in the Patriot League.

“I am extremely excited to be coming back to Bucknell,” Davis said in the release. “Having worked there for five years, I know what a special place Bucknell is. It is an ideal place to coach, because you have student-athletes who are committed to excellence on and off the court.

“I have remained a huge fan of the Bison and followed the team closely, and I hope to continue to build on the success that Dave Paulsen and his staff have achieved over the last seven years.”

Davis, who will be formally introduced by the school Tuesday afternoon, won more than 78 percent of his games as head coach at Randolph Macon. And with the talent expected to return next season, his debut campaign at Bucknell sets up to be a successful one as well.

The Bison’s top six scorers, led by rising senior guard Chris Hass (16.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and rising sophomore center Nana Foulland (10.2, 5.4), return after winning the Patriot League regular season title (13-5 record; 19-15 overall) in 2014-15.

George Mason hires Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen

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(Getty Images)

George Mason has made a move on a new head coach as Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen is their choice for new head coach, according to a release from the school.

The 50-year-old Paulsen helped guide the Bison to a first-place finish in the Patriot League this season and a NIT appearance. Bucknell was 19-15, 13-5 in league play, as Paulsen was the seven-year head coach there.

Paulsen was 124-92 and 64-30 in league play at Bucknell and also won a Division III national title at Williams College in 2003. After eight years at Williams, he made the transition to Division I after previous head-coaching stops at St. Laurence (Division III) and Le Moyne (Division II).

Two NCAA tournament appearances in 2011 and 2013 were the high marks for Paulsen in his stint at Bucknell. The Bison won the Patriot League regular-season crown four times in his eight years with one second-place finish.

Patriot League Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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Despite losing both games to Colgate, Bucknell still managed to claim the Patriot League regular season title by one game over the Raiders. That should tell you how competitive this week’s tournament should be. Lehigh routed Bucknell one week ago and Lafayette, another contender, has notched wins over each of the top three teams in the league. Leading the list of dark horses were two of the preseason favorites, American and Holy Cross.

READ MORE: NBC Sports’ latest Bracketology | The updated top 25

The Bracket

source:

When: March 3, 5, 8, 11

Where: Campus sites (higher seed)

Final: March 11, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

READ MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

Favorite: Bucknell

The Bison won the regular season title league for the fourth time in six years. Bucknell made noise early in the season, giving Villanova, now considered a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, a scare. But the Bison began league play 2-2 before rallying off win streaks of five and six games to win the Patriot League outright. It’s a young roster, but the Bison will hold home court and will have the guidance of Dave Paulsen, looking to take his third team to the NCAA tournament.

And if they lose?: Colgate

We’ve seen how important guard play is in March. The Raiders have a talented perimeter attack with senior scoring guard Damon Sherman-Newsome, Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Luke Roh and junior Austin Tillotson. Colgate has also shown it can win on the road with victories at Lehigh, Lafayette and Bucknell.

Sleepers:

  • Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks went 1-2 down the stretch, but that win was a 19-point win over league favorite Bucknell and those two losses — to fourth-place Lafayette and second-place Colgate — were by a total of eight points. A young roster got battle-tested in the last week of the season and they could use that, and the play of big man Tim Kempton, to make  a run this March.
  • American: Let’s not count out the defending champion. The Eagles still have Jesse Reed and Pee Wee Gardner. They also defeated three of the top four teams at least once this season.

Player of the Year: Dan Trist, Lafayette

The senior forward was conference’s top scorer at 17.7 points per game while grabbing 6.7 boards a night, good for fourth in the Patriot League. He went for 20 or more in both games against first-place Bucknell, including 29 points and 11 boards in a 84-74 win on Feb. 4. He also had strong outings against Colgate and Lehigh, the other two teams ahead of the Leopards in the league standings.

Coach of the Year: Dave Paulsen, Bucknell

The Bison were slotted to finish in the middle of the pack in the Patriot League preseason poll. Paulen, in his seventh season at Bucknell, took a young roster — seven freshmen and sophomores compared to two seniors who see significant minutes — and led them to the top spot in the standings, the fourth time the Bison have won the regular season title during his tenure.

All-Patriot League Team:

  • Trist
  • Tim Kempton, Lehigh: The sophomore big man was the league’s top rebounder (8.6) while averaging 15.1 points per game. He recorded six of his 13 double-doubles during Patriot League play.
  • Damon Sherman-Newsome, Colgate: The 6-foot-5 senior guard led the Raiders to a second-place finish, pacing the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
  • Cedric Hankerson, Boston University: The Terriers experienced a lot of turnover from last year. Hankerson embraced a larger role, increasing his scoring average by nearly 10 full points at 15.9 points per game. He also averaged 4.6 boards and 2.6 assists per game.
  • Chris Hass, Bucknell: The junior scoring guard scored 15.4 points per game, fifth in the Patriot League.

CBT PREDICTION: Bucknell over Lehigh

Penn State unveils new uniforms for next two games

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Long before many of us were born, some colleges wore interesting color combinations on the fields and courts of play. One such program is Penn State, whose original school colors were black and pink. Those colors lasted just over two years, when the fading of the pink ultimately led to the student body deciding that blue and white was a better combination (and one they still use today).

The current Nittany Lions will honor the school’s past by wearing black jerseys with pink trim for their games against Bucknell (Friday) and Virginia Tech (next Wednesday). The Penn State basketball program sent out a photo of senior guard D.J. Newbill in the uniforms on its Twitter account Thursday afternoon.

According to the release Bucknell will also be wearing throwback uniforms in honor of Penn State’s first trip to Lewisburg since 1976. Bucknell’s uniforms will be replicas of what the team wore during the mid-1970s, when their nickname was “Bisons” as opposed to the current nickname of “Bison.”