2006-07 Bucknell Men's Basketball Schedule Announced
LEWISBURG, Pa. - For the second year in a row the Bucknell men's basketball team will attempt to defend its Patriot League championship against what figures to be a daunting, yet terrifically exciting, schedule. Once again in 2006-07 the Bison will go up against some of the nation's top players and coaches, continue a number of in-state rivalries and make several national and regional television appearances.
Some of the highlights of the 2006-07 schedule:
Of Bucknell's 14 non-conference opponents, not including the yet-to-be-determined BracketBusters foe, 11 finished with records of .500 or better last season, six won at least 19 games, four played in the NCAA Tournament and three others participated in the NIT. All told, those 14 teams had a combined record of 244-187 (.566).
"I feel we have put together a schedule of games that our players have come to relish playing in," said head coach Pat Flannery, who enters the season just five victories shy of 300 for his career. "We are going to some great venues against some outstanding teams. The non-conference schedule certainly represents a challenge, but it will also prepare us well for Patriot League play."
While there is a possibility that one more game could be added to the schedule at a later date, the Bison are currently slated to play 10 regular-season games at Sojka Pavilion, where they went 14-1 last season and are 38-7 all-time. Bucknell will bring a 13-game home winning streak into the Nov. 14 matchup with Wake Forest.
The Bison will also host Mansfield in an exhibition game on Nov. 4, prior to the official season lidlifter on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Albany at 7 p.m. That contest will pit two reigning conference champions, as the Great Danes won the America East title last season and nearly upset No. 1 seeded Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Albany finished 21-11, 13-3 a year ago.
Three days later coach Skip Prosser brings his Wake Forest Demon Deacons to Lewisburg. Bucknell and Wake Forest have met twice previously, both times in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Demon Deacons won 83-56 on Jan. 2, 1974 and 83-67 on Feb. 6, 1991. Wake Forest finished 17-17 last season and advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. The Demon Deacons then lost at Minnesota in the first round of the NIT. Wake Forest has averaged 22 wins per season under Prosser. His Deacon teams played in the NCAA Tournament four straight years from 2002-05, advancing to at least the second round each time, including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2004. Wake Forest was ranked No. 1 in the nation as recently as 2005. The Demon Deacons graduated their top four scorers from a year ago, but they do boast the nation's No. 10-ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.
The Wake Forest game will be followed by four straight road games, first to Saint Joseph's, then on to Penn State, Yale and Saint Francis. The game at Hawk Hill is a Sunday afternoon (Nov. 19) tilt. Bucknell has defeated St. Joe's in each of the last two seasons, in Philadelphia in 2004-05 and at Sojka Pavilion a year ago. The Hawks finished 19-14 last season and played in the NIT.
Bucknell and Penn State will meet for the first time since the 2003-04 season on Nov. 21 at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions finished 15-15 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten last year, and they made a return to the postseason by receiving an NIT bid.
Northern Iowa makes its first-ever visit to Lewisburg on Saturday, Dec. 2 for a 1 p.m. tip at Sojka Pavilion. A 2006 NCAA Tournament at-large selection out of the highly competitive Missouri Valley conference, the Panthers finished 23-10 last season and spent a few weeks ranked in the top 25. In one of the showcase games of the ESPN BracketBusters event, UNI topped the then 24th-ranked Bison 65-61 in a double overtime thriller.
A day later Bucknell will be in the nation's capital for another showdown between two top mid-major programs, this one benefiting a worthy cause. The Bison will battle George Mason, which captured the nation's attention with a stirring run to the Final Four a year ago, as part of the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center, home of the NBA's Washington Wizards. The Bucknell-George Mason contest will be one of three games that make-up the BB&T Classic, presented by Juniper Networks, to benefit the Children's Charities Foundation. Two other top D.C.-area teams - Maryland and George Washington - are annual participants in the event.
Following the George Mason game, the Bison will take a 13-day break for final exams, then make a trip to Ithaca, N.Y., to take on Cornell, the third-place team from the Ivy League a year ago. On Dec. 20, Bucknell and Xavier will meet for the first time, and three days later the Bison will meet Texas Tech for the first time in a game that will be televised from Lubbock on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern). Xavier finished 21-11 last season and lost a four-point decision to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Texas Tech was 15-17 overall.
Following another short break for the Christmas holiday, the Bison will participate in the Marist Classic on Dec. 29-30. Bucknell will face Central Arkansas, a newcomer to the Division I ranks, in the opening round, while host Marist will face Northern Illinois. Each of the other three teams finished with winning records last season. Central Arkansas was 18-10, Marist 19-10 and Mid-American Conference West division champion Northern Illinois was 17-11.
Bucknell opens Patriot League play on Saturday, Jan. 6 against Navy at Sojka Pavilion at 7 p.m. In fact, the Bison will play five of their first seven conference games at home, where they have won 26 straight games against league opponents.
A pause in the Patriot League slate will come on Feb. 17, when the Bison will host an ESPN BracketBusters contest. The game will be played at Sojka Pavilion, with opponent, start time and television information to be announced in late January. That game will also be Senior Day at Sojka Pavilion, as it is the final regular-season home game on the schedule.
The Patriot League Tournament format will change slightly in 2007. This year, all games will be played on the campus of the higher-seeded team. On Wednesday, Feb. 28, the quarterfinals will be contested in four different venues, with the semifinals to come on Sunday, March 4 and the championship game on either ESPN or ESPN2 on Friday, March 9.
Television arrangements for a number of other regular season games are still to be determined, including Bucknell appearances on the Patriot League television package.
A year ago Bucknell captured its second straight Patriot League title en route to a school-record 27-win season. The Bison posted an unprecedented 14-0 Patriot League record, won an NCAA Tournament first-round game (59-55 over Arkansas) for the second straight year and finished the season ranked No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.