Solid observations, OO. Sure wish you were going to be there to share in the fun tomorrow night.
Some early Tuesday morning thoughts…………
> Bucknell sports a +5.2 rebounding margin this season and are 13-1 this season and 52-5 over the last three seasons when winning the battle on the glass. The Bison have outrebounded 14 of their 19 opponents so far this season and been even on the glass once, and that includes outrebounding a Missouri team that was No. 1 in the nation in rebounding at the time. The only teams to get more boards than Bucknell are Penn State, Marist, Princeton and Colgate. Perhaps not coincidentally, Penn State and Princeton are responsible for Bucknell’s only losses of the season, and the Marist and Colgate games were close at the end before the Bison prevailed. In PL games this year, they hold a +5.7 margin to Lehigh’s +0.0. Can we shrink that BU rebounding advantage on Wednesday night?>
Bucknell ranks 11th nationally in fewest fouls per game (14.4). Muscala averages only 1.9 fouls per game, allowing him to stay on the floor for about 32 minutes per game. In fact, only Joe Willman (2.2) and Ryan Hill (2.0) average 2+ fouls per game. Can we get to the line while, ideally, putting MM and JW into early foul trouble?>
Bucknell has held its three PL opponents to just 11 made 3’s on 44 attempts (.250) this year which is 2nd best in the league. They held the Leopards of Lafayette to just one 3 on 13 attempts this past Saturday. Only Lehigh sports a better 3FG% defense average of .227 (15 for 66). The two teams rank 1st and 2nd in both Scoring Defense and FG% Defense, as well, with LU holding a slight advantage in each. Can we get enough open looks to connect on the 3-ball Wednesday night while stifling the long ball attempts of Ayers and Johnson who combine for 75% of BU’s 3 point attempts? >
Muscala is as near as they come to being a one-man wrecking crew. He leads the Bison in scoring (20.1), rebounding (11.2), assists (2.9), blocks (2.7) and FG% (.543). He sits atop the league in scoring, rebounding and blocks and ranks in the top 20 nationally in each of those categories (6th reb., 16th pts., 20th blk.). Can we do what few teams have been able to do this year, i.e., contain MM? Penn State did holding Mike to 2 for 4 shooting and 10 points while out-rebounding the Bison by 7. In that game, Bucknell was held to just 5 made 3’s. Get the tape!
> BU’s Home Court Advantage. Can we again withstand early assaults from the home team and lead at the half – something we’ve done most of the year?
Answering “yes” to all the above questions will give us a realistic chance of pulling off the upset. With the win, we go 3-0 in our last three visits to Sojka Pavilion and send a clear message to the Bucknell faithful that the race is on – CJ or no CJ.