Bucknell Bison (Overall: 26-8, Conf: 15-3)
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Patriot League juggernauts the Bucknell Bison, who are decently priced at +35,000 to win the national title, won their third-consecutive regular-season title and sixth in seven seasons without losing back-to-back contests during their campaign. They also carry a solid six-game win streak heading into the Big Dance, capped off with a dominant 81-65 win over rival Lehigh in the conference championship game.
Junior center Nana Foulland, the Patriot League’s Defensive and overall Player of the Year, embodies the team’s principles of finding and converting good looks at the basket. Foulland shot a sweet 62.8 percent from the field this season, with the Bison as a whole ranking in the nation’s top 25 with a team field-goal percentage of 48.1 percent.
Despite lording over the Patriot League for the past few years, Bucknell has only made it to the NCAA tournament thrice since 2010, and as a double-digit-seeded entry on all three occasions at that. With a win over Vanderbilt being the biggest non-conference victory this season, the Bison might be biting off more than they can chew when they take on more competitive schools in the Big Dance, beginning with the West Region’s No. 4 seed and Big 12 conference championship finalists West Virginia.
WVU, mind you, employs a stingy defense that forces opponents to turn the ball over on over a fourth of their possessions (an NCAA-best 28.1 percent). Bucknell’s unfamiliarity with the “Press Virginia” scheme of the Mountaineers might very well lead to the team’s downfall this week.
|CATEGORY||STAT / G||NCAA RANK|
|Field goal percentage||48.1||21st|
|Free throw percentage||67.9||260th|
Make that three-straight first-round eliminations in the final tournament of the year for Bucknell (+35,000).
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