Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spying Cinderella - Can Bucknell Make A Run In The NCAA Tournament

Can Bucknell build on past tournament success? (nydailynews.com)

In a year with the greatest parity college basketball has seen in some time, where to begin when searching for this year's Cinderella(s)? Butler and VCU have been-there, done-that and St. Louis is hotter than Kate Upton in a parka, but to find a true Cinderella, you've got to dive down to the double-digit seeds. Which of these is poised for not just one second-round upset, but a legitimate Sweet Sixteen, or even Final Four run?

Many teams in this field could find themselves dancing in glass slippers, but to me, 11-seed Bucknell stands out in the crowd. Few teams in the tournament boast an interior weapon like the Bison's 6-11 center Mike Muscala. Muscala averages 19 points and 12 rebounds per game and has legitimate NBA potential. He will be a load for any team to deal with, regardless of seeding. Bucknell also finds senior leadership in 6-2 guard Bryson Johnson and 6-7 forward Joe Willman, both of whom are double-digit scorers.

The Bison enter the tournament on a roll, cruising to the Patriot League Championship by winning 12 of their last 13 games in impressive fashion. Furthermore, their five total losses this year have only come at an average margin of 4.4 points. Most importantly, though, they are hot and brimming with confidence at just the right time.

Bucknell came onto the scene in a big way by beating 3-seed Kansas as a 14-seed in a 2005 first-round game for the program's first NCAA victory. I think this is the year they take the extra step and go from a one-hit wonder to Belle of the Ball. If Bucknell can get past Butler, a well-coached, experienced unit, the bottom half of the East Region sets up well for an Elite Eight appearance and a true Cinderella story.

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