LEWISBURG, Pa. – The bracket for this year’s Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic was announced on Wednesday, and Bucknell will open the tournament against Rhode Island in a battle of 2018 NCAA Tournament participants.
The Bison and Rams will meet in the third of four games on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 10 p.m. Eastern time (5 p.m. locally in Hawai’i) at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Other first-round matchups include Indiana State vs. Colorado (3 p.m. ET), UNLV vs. Hawai’I (5 p.m. ET) and Charlotte vs. TCU (12:30 a.m. ET).
Every game in the tournament will be televised on one of the ESPN networks. The network for the Bucknell-Rhode Island game has not yet been determined.
Bucknell, which will be competing in the state of Hawai’I for the very first time, finished 25-10 overall and 16-2 in the Patriot League last season. The Bison captured the Patriot League regular-season title for the seventh time in the last eight years, and then went on to win the league tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row and eighth time overall. As a No. 14 seed, the Bison dropped an 82-78 decision to Michigan State in the first round in Detroit.
Rhode Island went 26-8 overall and 15-3 in the Atlantic 10 a season ago. The Rams lost a one-point decision to Davidson in the A-10 Tournament championship game, but they made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team and earned a No. 7 seed. Rhode Island defeated Oklahoma 83-78 in overtime in the first round of the tournament, then fell to Duke 87-62 in the second round in Pittsburgh.
Rhode Island’s new head coach, David Cox, played basketball at William & Mary under Bucknell Athletics Hall-of-Famer Charlie Woollum.
It will be the first meeting between the Bison and Rams since 1965. Rhode Island leads the all-time series, 5-3.
The Bucknell-Rhode Island winner will meet the winner of the Charlotte-TCU game on Sunday, Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. ET. TCU joins Bucknell and Rhode Islands as a 2018 NCAA participant. The sixth-seeded Horned Frogs, who were 21-12 last season, fell to Syracuse in the game following the Bucknell-Michigan State contest in Detroit.
The Diamond Head Classic takes a break on Dec. 24, and then the championship and consolation games will be held on Christmas Day. The championship game is slated for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
On the way out to Hawai'i, the Bison will have another tough test against Saint Mary's in Moraga, Calif., on Dec. 19.
2018-19 Bucknell Non-Conference Schedule:
Nov. 7 at St. Bonaventure
Nov. 10 FAIRFIELD
Nov. 14 CANISIUS
Nov. 25 at Vermont
Nov. 28 NORTHEASTERN
Dec. 1 MONMOUTH
Dec. 4 at La Salle
Dec. 15 at Ohio State
Dec. 19 at Saint Mary’s
Dec. 22, 23, 25 at Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic