NCAA March Madness Preview – Bucknell Bison

Bucknell Bison

Patriot League (26-8, 15-3)

by Joel Welser

Coach Nathan Davis won the Patriot League regular season title for the second straight season with Bucknell. This time around it was a bit of a surprise with just two starters returning, but the Bison filled in the holes very nicely and cruised through the Patriot League with a 15-3 regular season record.

 Big Wins: 11/21 at Vanderbilt (75-72), 11/30 Richmond (73-68), 12/6 at Fairfield (75-64)

Bad Losses: 12/17 at Siena (68-71), 1/11 Lehigh (71-82), 2/15 at Loyola MD (77-78)

Coach: Nathan Davis

Why They Can Surprise:

The junior trio of Stephen Brown, Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland can dominate games. Brown runs the point and averages 10.9 points, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals. He is the guy who leads this team on both ends of the floor. He is also an extremely efficient three-point shooter. Speaking of shooters, Thomas is one of the best in the country. He has connected on 42.0 percent of his 131 attempts from beyond the arc. However, Thomas is about so much more than just shooting. He averages 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists and does even more than his impressive numbers indicate. Foulland starts beside Thomas in the frontcourt. The 6-9 center is a great interior scorer and a dangerous shot blocker.

Why They Can Disappoint:

With an explosive offense, much of Bucknell’s struggles come in other aspects of the game. Rebounding can be an issue. While the Bison have a lot of depth, when Thomas or Foulland are on the bench, there is not much left to help out on the glass. The other issue is their three-point defense. In two losses to Lehigh, which accounted for two of their three Patriot League losses, the Mountain Hawks shot 58.8 percent and 47.4 percent from long range. Lehigh also outrebounded Bucknell by nine in one of those games and six in the other. The Bison can play good defense, but when opponents are knocking down three-pointers and beating them on the glass, the offense can find it difficult to keep pace.

Probable Starters:

Stephen Brown, Junior, Guard, 10.9 ppg, 4.8 apg

Kimbal Mackenzie, Sophomore, Guard, 11.3 ppg, 2.4 apg

Avi Toomer, Freshman, Guard, 3.2 ppg

Zach Thomas, Junior, Forward, 16.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.4 apg

Nana Foulland, Junior, Center, 14.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.0 bpg

Key Role Players:

D.J. MacLeay, Senior, Forward, 3.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Bruce Moore, Freshman, Forward, 3.7 ppg

Nate Sestina, Sophomore, Center, 4.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg

John Azzinaro, Senior, Guard, 3.1 ppg

Nate Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 3.4 ppg

Matt O’Reilly, Sophomore, Guard, 3.3 ppg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.9 (113th in nation, 2nd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 67.4 (60, 3)

Field-Goal Percentage: 48.1 (24, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (104, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (105, 5)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (54, 2)

Free-Throw Percentage: 67.9 (258, 6)

Rebound Margin: 1.0 (151, 5)

Assists Per Game: 14.4 (121, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (223, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NIT     First Round loss to Monmouth

2015    NIT     First Round loss to Temple

2013    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Butler

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 3/5

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