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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

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Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
Final
WASH 10
ARST 24
4th
HAW 10
NEV 19
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14