(Compare to our preseason preview here)
- Battle-Tested Bison - Bucknell wasn't shy about scheduling a tough non-conference slate. The Bison played eight "higher major" schools on the road this season (Monmouth, Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Saint Joseph's, Northeastern, VCU, and Richmond) leading many to believe they had an outside shot at an at-large bid given the returning talent. Unfortunately, Bucknell stumbled to a 1-7 record in those games despite putting up some good fights. The brutal scheduling wasn't in vain, however, as the Bison ran through the Patriot like a hot bull through butter people, taking home the conference crown for the 4th straight year in a row.
- Colgate's Collapse - In case you missed it, the game on February 12th featuring Bucknell at Colgate was bananas (B A N A N A S). Colgate led by 10 points with 56 seconds to play... and by 8 points with 25 seconds to play... and then they barfed on themselves. The Bison had a minimum win probability of 0.3% near the end of the game, making Colgate's collapse one of the biggest of the season. Of course, even if the Raiders would have won that game, the Bison would've still won the conference by three games. See below for KenPom's win probability:
- Let's Hear it for the Leopards - Lafayette finished 7th in the Patriot this season after wallowing in the basement of the league for the past two seasons. Long-time coach Fran O'Hanlon's squad was picked unanimously (oh, except by 3MW) to finish 10th once again in 2017-18, but the Leopards prevailed and became a somewhat respectable basketball team behind stud senior forward Matt Klinewski.
The better seed hosts each game.
What to Watch:
- Bucknell won the conference by 4 games this season, one game better than last year's 13-seeded squad. It was clear how head-and-shoulders above everyone the Bison were this season, so it will be interesting to see if any team can pull a major upset. For the sake of the quality of the NCAA Tournament and Bucknell's three senior leaders, I hope an upset doesn't happen.
- Lehigh is on fire. The Mountain Hawks haven't lost since January 29th, finishing the regular season on a 7-0 tear. During that stretch, Lehigh even upended Bucknell in Bethlehem, a major accomplishment with the loss of all-time great Tim Kempton's graduation in 2017. Senior guard Kahron Ross is as good as any player in the conference and Lance Tejada, an ECU transfer, has been a human fireball from deep. Look out for Lehigh.
Who Will Win:
- Bucknell - It would be a major disappointment if the Bison lost this tournament. An auto-bid puts the Bison on the 12-13 line in the NCAA Tournament; a win by anybody else likely results in a 16 seed.
If Not Them, Then:
- Lehigh / Colgate / Boston - See above for the Lehigh blurb; I legitimately worry for the Bison in that second round game. Contenders outside of the Hawks include Boston, the only other team to defeat Bucknell this season, and Colgate, the team that came the closest to beating Bucknell without actually beating Bucknell. No love will be given to the Midshipmen, who don't match up well against a Colgate team isn't fazed by Navy's pressure (Colgate is 2-0 this season against Navy).