College Basketball

more stats

Bucknell (28-5) vs. Butler (26-8)



Thursday, March 21, 12:40 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: Rupp Arena (23,500) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: truTV. NCAA Record: Bucknell 2-5, Butler 16-10. Series Record: First meeting.

GAME NOTES: In a matchup of mid-major powers the sixth-seed Butler Bulldogs will take on the 11th-seed Bucknell Bison in the second round of the NCAA Tournament East Region at Rupp Arena on Thursday afternoon.

Bucknell coasted to both the regular season title and conference tourney crown in the Patriot League this season as the unquestioned class of the conference. The Bison are the first team in conference history to win three straight league titles as they get set for their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Bucknell has just two wins in seven previous contests in the tourney, including an 81-52 rout of Connecticut last year.

Though Butler has not played in one of the power conferences it has been one of the more successful teams in the NCAA Tournament in recent memory. The Bulldogs missed out on a spot last season after making consecutive trips to the title game in 2010 and 2011. This season was the Bulldogs' first in the Atlantic 10 and they certainly made a splash, spending time in the national rankings, while posting a 26-8 overall record. Butler also collected a win against the East Region's No. 1 seed when it stunned Indiana, 88-86, in December.

This game marks the first time these teams have ever been matched up. Whichever squad manages to advance will get to face either third-seed Marquette or 14th-seed Davidson.

Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala was at it again as he led the Bison to a 64-56 win over Lafayette for the conference crown. Muscala had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bison who outscored Lafayette, 28-16, in the paint.

Muscala (19.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.4 bpg) is the key for the Bison if they hope to pull off the upset. The 6-foot-11 center has posted an NCAA-leading 22 double- doubles this season and can be expected to get the ball fed to him on the low block early and often on Thursday. With Butler likely to be keying in on Muscala the Bison will need strong efforts from their other key pieces, including Cameron Ayers (12.5 ppg), Bryon Johnson (11.1 ppg) and Joe Willman (10.3 ppg). Muscala doesn't just make an impact on offense as he can really protect the rim and anchors the Bison's exemplary efforts on that end. Bucknell allows just 57.5 points per game and holds foes to 37.8 percent shooting.

Butler was another victim to the stingy defense of Saint Louis in the battle between the teams in the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament. The Bulldogs hit just 38.9 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 20 times in the contest. Rotnei Clarke did his best to keep the Bulldogs in the contest but needed 15 attempts to get his team-high 16 points.

Clarke (16.7 ppg) is the centerpiece for Butler on the offensive end. The 6- foot guard had the best season of his career after transferring from Arkansas setting career-highs in points while netting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. Clarke didn't mind deferring when he needed to either as he set a career-high with 2.7 assists per game. Andre Smith (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg) will have the unenviable task of matching up with Muscala but he has been a solid scorer in his own right. Roosevelt Jones (10.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.5 apg) provides versatility as well for the Bulldogs.

This game will come down to how well the Bulldogs can handle Muscala. That is easier said than done especially for a Butler team that doesn't have a ton of size up front. If Muscala avoids foul trouble and puts up another big effort this could be one of the first upsets of the Tournament.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bucknell 68, Butler 65

03/21 10:35:30 ET

Other Stories

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls at Norfolk

    Today at 1:05 pm on 620am

  • NBA: Bobcats at Miami

    Today at 3:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Tonight at 7:05 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MiLB: Bulls at Charlotte

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR