Bucknell hosts Lehigh for Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Patriot League Coach of the Year Dave Paulsen tries to lead Bucknell to a second consecutive League title on Wednesday.
Patriot League Coach of the Year Dave Paulsen tries to lead Bucknell to a second consecutive League title on Wednesday.

March 6, 2012

Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship Preview Get Acrobat Reader

Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament Central

Center Valley, Pa.- After cruising through the regular season and Patriot League Tournament, top seed Bucknell and second-seed Lehigh will come head-to-head for the Patriot League Championship on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion.

The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network, with Patriot League announcers Bob Socci and Vince Curran on the call. It will also be available on a national radio broadcast on Westwood One with John Tautges and Alaa Abdelnaby calling the action.

The teams splilt their matchups in the regular season, with each winning on the other's home court. Bucknell posted a 68-61 win at Lehigh on Jan. 18, while the Mountain Hawks returned the favor with a 56-53 triumph at Bucknell on Feb. 16.

Both teams have dominated in the first two rounds of the Patriot League Tournament. Bucknell beat Navy 87-63 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday and Lafayette 79-52 in the semifinals on Saturday, becoming the first team in Patriot League history to win by 20 points or more in the first two rounds. Lehigh won 70-57 over Colgate in the quarterfinal round and took down American 85-66 in the semifinals.

The Bison will try to continue a run of top seeds winning in the Patriot League title game. The No. 1 seed has won the title in six consecutive seasons, which continued with Bucknell's triumph over Lafayette last year. Bucknell is going for tis fourth Patriot League title and second repeat championship.

Lehigh is in search of its third Patriot League Championship. Only four teams have ever won the title on the road, but the Mountain Hawks are among the leaders nationally with 13 road/neutral wins that including the triumph at Bucknell.

The winner receives the Patriot League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Both head coaches were interviewed on the Tim Brando Show on CBS Sports Network on Monday to preview the Patriot League title game. Links to both interviews are included below.

Bucknell Head Coach Dave Paulsen
Lehigh Head Coach Brett Reed

Patriot League Championship Notebook

CBS Sports Network, Westwood One to Cover League Championship The Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship will feature national coverage on both television and radio. After televising 11 regular-season contests and both semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament in 2012, CBS Sports Network will showcase the League Championship for the first time. Bob Socci and Vince Curran, who have called the action throughout the season, will broadcast from Sojka Pavilion. In addition, the Patriot League Championship will have a national radio broadcast through Westwood One/Dial Global, with John Tautges and Alaa Abdelnaby on the call.
CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers on Verizon FiOS Channel 94 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 643 (1643 in HD) and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 613 and Dish Network Channel 158. For more information on CBS Sports Network, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com. Dial Global is a diverse radio programming and advertising sales company that provides vital content and services to more than 7,000 radio stations throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.dialglobal.com.

For more on the television and radio coverage for the Championship game, go here

Another Down to the Wire Affair for Bucknell and Lehigh?
Bucknell and Lehigh have played three consecutive memorable contests. The Bison held off Lehigh 66-64 in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals last year on their way to the League title. This season, each sqaud won a down-to-the-wire game on the road. Bucknell scored the last five points for a 68-61 win at Lehigh on Jan. 18, while C.J. McCollum hit a game-winning three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left for a 56-53 win at Bucknell on Feb. 16, which stopped a four-game win streak for the Bison over the Mountain Hawks.

Bucknell Playing for Another Repeat, Spot in Patriot League History
Bucknell is in its ninth Patriot League title game, one behind the record of 10 held by Holy Cross. If the Bison win a fourth title, they would pull to within one of the Crusaders for the most in Patriot League history. Bucknell is also trying to become the first program to repeat twice as Patriot League champion after the Bison won the title in 2005 and 2006. A Bucknell victory on Wednesday would be the eighth repeat title in Patriot League history, with Holy Cross winning three in a row from 2001-03.

Lehigh Tries to Stay Perfect in League Title Game, Join Group with Three Titles
Lehigh is the only active team with an undefeated record in the Patriot League title game, and the Mountain Hawks try to keep it that way with a third title Wednesday. If they do, Lehigh would join Bucknell and Navy as three-time Patriot League champions.

Can No. 1 Do it Again?
In all 22 Patriot League seasons, the No. 1 seed has advanced to the title game. Bucknell kept the streak alive in 2012, and tries to make it seven years in a row where the No. 1 team has won the Patriot League Championship. The run of No. 1 seeds winning the title began with the Bison in 2006, and continued as Bucknell won the crown again in 2011. The No. 1 seed has won the Patriot League title in 17 of 21 seasons.

Some Success for No. 2, Too
While the No. 1 seed has dominated throughout Patriot League history, the four titles that were not won by the top team were all claimed by the No. 2 seed. The No. 2 seed won the League title in 1993, 1998, 2002 and 2005. Bucknell was involved twice, losing the title contest at home as the No. 1 seed in 1993 and winning at Holy Cross in 2005. The Mountain Hawks are trying to become the fifth No. 2 seed to win the title, and also the fifth to claim the crown on the road.

Top Seed Matchups Familiar in League Title Contest
It will be the 13th time where the top two seeds face off for the Patriot League Championship, with the No. 1 seed holding an 8-4 head-to-head edge over No. 2 (Navy and Lafayette were both No. 1 seeds in 2000). It is the first time since 2009 where the top two teams have made the final. The No. 1 has won the last three matchups with No. 2 in the title game.

Winningest Matchup in Patriot League Championship
For the first time in Patriot League history, both teams come in with at least 24 victories in the Patriot League title contest. Lehigh has a school-record 25 victories, while Bucknell has a 24-8 mark. The 49 combined victories are also the most coming into the Patriot League title game, topping the 46 of Navy/Lafayette (2000) and Holy Cross/Bucknell (2005 and 2007). Only Holy Cross and Bucknell in 2005 combined for 49 wins at the end of the season, so Bucknell and Lehigh are also going to break the overall mark. The pair had already combined with American to give the Patriot League three 20-win teams for the first time.

Player of the Year = League Championship?
Lehigh junior guard C.J. McCollum narrowly beat out Bucknell junior forward/center Mike Muscala for the Patriot League Player of the Year award in 2012. Could that be an indication of what's to come in the League title contest? The Player of the Year has gone on to win the Patriot League title 12 times in 21 seasons. The last three and five of the past six Patriot League Player of the Year winners won the League title, including McCollum with Lehigh in 2010 and Muscala for Bucknell in 2011.

Lehigh's McCollum, Bucknell's Muscala Up for Lou Henson Award
In addition to competing for Patriot League honors, Bucknell's Mike Muscala and Lehigh's C.J. McCollum have each been named as candidates for the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award. The Lou Henson Award is presented annually by CollegeInisder.com to the top Mid-Major player in Division I college basketball. The Patriot League is one of seven conferences with multiple players up for the honor. POINT 3 Basketball and Collegeinsider.com also announced the launch of fan voting for the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year Award, and fans can vote online at www.votelouhenson.com until March 12.

More on the Junior Stars
McCollum and Muscala have dominated the Patriot League since their freshman season, and they have the accolades and numbers to prove it. They are among 17 players to earn three All-Patriot League honors, with McCollum as one of eight to garner three first-team selections. McCollum is one of only three with multiple Player of the Year awards as well as the only freshman to win the honor, while Muscala was one of just three sophomores to claim the award when he won it last year. Both players are among only 14 in League history with at least 1,200 points and 600 rebounds, with Muscala joining only Colgate's Adonal Foyle by adding at least 150 blocks to that total. Earlier in the season, McCollum passed Foyle as the all-time leading junior scorer in Patriot League history.

Player of the Year vs. Defensive Player of the Year
McCollum stands fifth in the country with 21.7 points per game, and has scored more than 20 points in all but three games against Patriot League opposition. During the regular season, however, Bucknell and its Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, Bryan Cohen, held the Lehigh standout below those averages. McCollum had 14 points in Lehigh's loss to Bucknell on Jan. 18, and 15 in the win over the Bison on Feb. 16. Cohen helped the Bucknell defense limit the Lehigh junior to a combined 9-of-27 shooting effort in the two games. For a video feature on Cohen, click here.

Offense vs. Defense
While both Lehigh and Bucknell have shown the ability to play on both ends of the floor, the Patriot League Championship will in part come down to an explosive Lehigh offense facing a stifling Bucknell defense. The Mountain Hawks are 30th in the nation with 76.0 points per game, while the Bison stand 29th in the nation by allowing just 60.5 points per contest. Bucknell has dictated the pace in the first two matchups, holding Lehigh to an average of 58.5 points in the two games. It accounted for two of only four games all season where the Mountain Hawks did not score 70 points.

Bison, Mountain Hawks Cruise into Patriot League Title Game
Both Bucknell and Lehigh dominated their competition in the first two rounds to advance to the Patriot League Championship. The Bison won 87-63 over Navy and 79-52 over Lafayette, becoming the first team in Patriot League history to win both their quarterfinal and semifinal contests by 20 points or more. Bucknell is just the second team to win two games by 20 or more in any Patriot League Tournament (Lafayette, 2000). That Leopards squad and Bucknell's 2005 Patriot League title team hold the record for winning their Patriot League Tournament games by a combined 58 points. Lehigh won its first two games by 13 and 19 points, and both teams are trying to become the third team to win all of their games by double digits. Oddly enough, Bucknell (2006) and Lehigh (2010) are the only teams with all double-digit wins in the League Tournament, with the Mountain Hawks winning each of their contests by at least 15 points two years ago.

Bucknell Sets Pair of League Tournament Records
Bucknell's shooting has been on target during the Patriot League Tournament, and the Bison have set single-game records for both field goal and free throw percentage. Bucknell set the free-throw percentage mark against Lafayette on Saturday by making all 19 of its foul shots. The Bison also made a record 62.7 percent of their field-goal attempts (32-of-51) in their quarterfinal win against Navy. For more records set in the Patriot League Tournament and a recap of each round, read pages five and six of the men's basketball release.

Patriot League Championship

No. 2 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (25-7, 11-3) at No. 1 Bucknell Bison (24-8, 12-2)
Sojka Pavilion; Lewisburg, Pa.; Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Series: Bucknell, 96-61 TV: CBS Sports Network (Bob Socci, Vince Curran)
Streak: Lehigh, One Win Last Meeting: Lehigh 56, Bucknell 53 (2.16.2012)
Last Bucknell Win: 68-61 (1.18.2012) Last Five Games: Bucknell, 4-1

Patriot League Tournament History (Bucknell, 5-2)
1993 Quarterfinals: No. 1 Bucknell 69, No. 8 Lehigh 65 (OT) (March 3 at Bucknell)
1997 Quarterfinals: No. 2 Bucknell 84, No. 7 Lehigh 54 (March 1 at Lehigh)
1999 Semifinals: No. 3 Bucknell 58, No. 7 Lehigh 50 (Feb. 28 at Army)
2000 Quarterfinals: No. 6 Lehigh 73, No. 3 Bucknell 62 (March 4 at Lafayette)
2003 Quarterfinals: No. 5 Bucknell 52, No. 4 Lehigh 47 (March 8 at Upper Marlboro, Md.)
2004 Semifinals: No. 1 Lehigh 60, No. 4 Bucknell 45 (March 7 at Upper Marlboro, Md.)
2011 Semifinals: No. 1 Bucknell 66, No. 4 Lehigh 64 (March 6 at Bucknell)

Top seed Bucknell hosts No. 2 seed Lehigh for the Patriot League Men's Basketball Championship on Wednesday at 7 p.m...The game will be shown live on CBS Sports Network and also features a national radio broadcast through Westwood One...The teams split two very competitive games during the regular season, with each winning on the road...Bucknell scored the final five points in a 68-61 win at Lehigh on Jan. 18, while C.J. McCollum hit the game-winning three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give Lehigh a 56-53 victory at Bucknell on Feb. 16...The Mountain Hawks scored the last seven points of the game...The teams are meeting in the Patriot League Tournament for the eighth time, with Bucknell holding a 5-2 advantage in the matchups...The Bison defeated the Mountain Hawks 66-64 in last year's semifinals on their way to the Patriot League title...It is the first time the teams have squared off for the Patriot League title...Bucknell is in its ninth Patriot League title game, and seeks its fourth championship overall and second repeat...It would be Bucknell's fourth title in the past eight seasons, as the Bison also won it all in 2005 and 2006...Lehigh is in its third title game, winning the Patriot League Championship in 2004 and 2010.

LehighSecond-seed Lehigh closed the first half with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good and then used a 17-3 stretch in the second half to pull away for an 85-66 win over third-seed American on Saturday at Stabler Arena in a semifinal contest of the Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament...The game was tight throughout the first half, but Lehigh scored the final eight points of the period to take a 34-28 lead at the break...The Mountain Hawks pushed the lead to 46-36 with 13:48 left, then started the 17-3 run that widened the gap to 63-39 with 7:56 to go on their way to the 85-66 win...C.J. Mcollum led Lehigh with 27 points and 10 rebounds and in the process became the fourth player in League history to surpass 2,000 career points...McCollum made 10-of-16 shots and also dished out six assists in the game...McKnight came through with 14 points and seven assists, while Holden Greiner also added 14...Lehigh finished over 50 percent from the field at 32-of-59, and also made 10-of-23 shots from beyond the arc...The Mountain Hawks had a great night on the boards with a 44-26 rebounding advantage.

Bucknell Top seed Bucknell put together another dominant performance by blowing the game open late in the first half and rolling to a 79-52 win over #5 Lafayette in a Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal on Saturday at Sojka Pavilion...Bucknell becomes the first team in Patriot League history to win by 20 points or more in both the quarterfinal and semifinal round...For the second straight tournament game, the Bison never trailed as they built the lead early and expanded it late in the first half...Bucknell was ahead 15-13 with just over 10 minutes to play until halftime, then dominated the rest of the period with a 25-7 stretch to take a 40-20 lead at the break...Bucknell put together a 26-6 run to build the lead to 32 before settling on the 79-52 final...Joe Willman and Mike Muscala patrolled the paint for the Bison with 18 points apiece, while Cameron Ayers scored 12...Bucknell made all 19 of its free-throw attempts, setting a League Tournament record for free-throw percentage one game after it set the mark for field-goal percentage in a Tournament contest...Bucknell hit 27-of-58 shots from the field in the game, including 15-of-24 in the second half.