Bucknell Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Bucknell Bison
Patriot (28-5, 12-2)

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Bucknell took home their third straight Patriot League title under Coach Dave Paulsen and, thus, their third straight postseason appearance. It was not long ago that the Bison were giant slayers in the NCAA Tournament. In 2005 they knocked off Kansas in the first round and in 2006 they beat Arkansas. The current Bison had some success in the NIT last season with a win over Arizona, so do not be surprised if Bucknell makes March a bit interesting.

Big Wins: 11/17 vs New Mexico State (62-49), 12/15 La Salle (74-66), 2/18 at Lehigh (61-55)
Bad Losses: 11/23 at Penn State (57-60), 12/22 at Princeton (67-79), 2/16 at Lafayette (62-63)
Coach: Dave Paulsen (5 seasons at Bucknell)

Why They Can Surprise:
The Bison play smart basketball and work their offense through center Mike Muscala. The 6-11 senior averages 19.0 points and 11.2 rebounds. Muscala is a great interior scorer and rebounder, but he does so much more. He has a nice mid-range jumper, which is a big problem for most opposing defenders. And when Muscala is double teamed, he can dish the ball out of the paint and find an open teammate. Defensively, Muscala is good for at least a couple blocks per game too and he spearheads the strong defensive effort. With Muscala in the paint, nobody has an easy time scoring against the Bison. Bryson Johnson is the team’s primary ball handler, but the Bison have a roster full of players who can take care of the ball and that is why they commit fewer than ten turnovers per game. Johnson and wing Cameron Ayers are both extremely efficient shooters as well and will get plenty of open looks. Joe Willman is the other scoring option. The 6-7 senior takes a backseat to Muscala, but he is a good interior scorer and a quality secondary rebounder.

Why They Can Disappoint:
After the big four, the scoring really drops off. Ryan Hill rounds out the starting five, but he averages just 2.9 points per game. The 6-3 guard will help out a bit on the glass, but he is not a shooter or a scorer at this point in his career. The bench is not very deep either with guards Ryan Frazier and Steven Kaspar providing most of the depth. That leaves very little room for error for Muscala and Willman when it comes to foul trouble. It does not happen often, but if Hill and Ayers are struggling with their shots, there is a lot of pressure on Muscala and those double teams will start to work when Bucknell runs into a talented frontcourt.

Probable Starters:
Bryson Johnson, Senior, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 2.4 apg
Ryan Hill, Junior, Guard, 2.9 ppg, 1.5 apg
Cameron Ayers, Junior, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 2.0 apg, 4.0 rpg
Joe Willman, Senior, Forward, 10.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Mike Muscala, Senior, Center, 19.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Ryan Frazier, Freshman, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Steven Kaspar, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg, 2.0 apg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.4 (173rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.6 (14, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (61, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.7 (8, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.7 (311, 8)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: n/a
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.2 (36, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.9 (29, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (129, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.6 (3, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2012    NIT        First Round win over Arizona
2012    NIT        Second Round loss to Nevada
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Connecticut
2006    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Arkansas
2006    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Memphis
2005    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Kansas
2005    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Wisconsin

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules