Mike Muscala and the Bucknell Bison have three straight Patriot League titles with just one NCAA Tournament appearance to show for it. They'll need to win the conference tourney if they want to go dancing out of a one-bid league, but Lafayette and last year's NCAA darlings in Lehigh are looking to knock them off.
Muscala led the nation in double-doubles, averaging 19.4 points and 11.1 rebounds, stats that have him drawing attention from NBA scouts. Kenpom.com has him ranked as the No. 9 overall player in the nation, while Ben Miraski of Mid-Major Madness wrote that Muscala deserves to be considered amongst the nation's top players. But they've been good in the past, winning the regular-season title in each of the last three seasons, but haven't been able to perform in the Patriot League Tournament: Lehigh won in 2010 and again last year, eventually knocking off No. 2 Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
Lafayette and Lehigh are the two teams most likely to knock off the Bison. Lafayette won at the buzzer on a Tony Johnson buzzer earlier this year, while Lehigh won a game that was also close, 65-62. They'll likely play for the right to face Bucknell on the other side of the bracket in what should be a good game: the Mountain Hawks and Leopards are bitter rivals and both finished conference play at 10-4 - but Lafayette earned the No. 2 seed thanks to a pair of head-to-head wins, one by 31 points. Lehigh will be seeking revenge -- and an NCAA Tournament shot -- if the two teams matchup.
It's a different Lehigh team than the one that played in the NCAA Tournament last year: two-time conference player of the year C.J. McCollum hasn't been in action since January due to a broken foot. He reportedly just began walking again without crutches, so it seems unlikely he'll be playing again this year.
Also intriguing is Army, one of five teams who were playing Division I basketball when the NCAA Tournament first began in 1939 that still has not made it to the NCAA Tournament. They're the No. 4 seed and are headed for a likely matchup against Bucknell in the semifinals if they can beat American in their first-round game.
All games will be played at higher seeds' home sites -- good news for the Bison, who went 11-1 this year at home.
Here's the tournament schedule, all times are Eastern:
Wednesday, March 6 (all games at 7 p.m., available for streaming at Patriot League website)
No. 1 Bucknell (12-2, 25-5) vs. No. 8 Navy (2-12, 8-22), Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
No. 2 Lafayette (10-4, 20-8) vs. No. 7 Holy Cross (4-10, 12-17), Kirby Sports Center, Easto, Pa.
No. 3 Lehigh (10-4, 20-8) vs. No. 6 Colgate (5-9, 11-20), Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, Pa.
No. 4 Army (8-6, 15-14) vs. No. 5 American (5-9, 10-19), Christl Arena, West Point, N.Y.
Saturday, March 9 (games at either 2 p.m. or 4:30 p.m., both on CBS Sports Network)
Bucknell/Navy vs. Army/American
Lafayette/Holy Cross vs. Lehigh/Colgate
Wednesday, March 13 , 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network