Bucknell Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Announced
Sept. 18, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Eight opponents that won 20 or more games last season, including one that won 30. Seven that appeared in a postseason tournament, including four NCAA qualifiers. Three reigning conference champions. Three BCS-conference teams. Four Ivy League foes. Such is the challenge that the Bucknell men's basketball team will face during the non-conference portion of its 2012-13 schedule.
Coming off back-to-back 25-win seasons and a pair of postseason appearances themselves, the Bison will undertake one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in program history this year. Among the highlights are a season-opening tilt at Purdue as part of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project; the renewal of the series with local rival Penn State; a January road trip to Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri; and home games against mid-major powers George Mason, Kent State and La Salle.
For the fourth straight year the Bison will be playing in an early season tournament. This year it is the 2K Sports Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. Bucknell's season-opener at Purdue is part of that event. The Bison and Boilermakers will meet for the first time on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. (ET) at Mackey Arena. Purdue finished 22-13 last season and was a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Boilermakers defeated Saint Mary's in their opening game before falling to Kansas in the Round of 32.
A week later, Bucknell's participation in the 2K Sports Classic continues in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, where the Bison will play three games in three days at Niagara's Gallagher Center. Bucknell and Niagara will open the weekend on Friday, Nov. 16, meeting for the first time since 2005. One night later the Bison will square off with defending Western Athletic Conference champion New Mexico State. The Aggies went 26-10 overall and 10-4 in the WAC in 2011-12. After winning the WAC Tournament title, they earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament and fell to Indiana in the Round of 64.
Bucknell's third opponent at Niagara will be a familiar one, as the Bison will take on West Alabama in a tournament for the second straight season. A year ago Bucknell hit a school-record 17 3-pointers in a win over the Tigers at the TicketCity Legends Classic at Sojka Pavilion.
Prior to embarking for Buffalo, the Bison will open their home schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 13 against George Mason. The Patriots are annually one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association, and last year they finished 24-9 overall and 14-4 in the CAA. Bucknell and George Mason played a terrific game last season in Fairfax, Va., with the Patriots prevailing 61-57 in a contest that came right down the wire.
The George Mason game is one of five non-league home games for the Bison. On Nov. 27 they will host Ivy League foe Dartmouth. Mid-American Conference contender Kent State will appear at Sojka Pavilion for the first time on Dec. 4. The Golden Flashes finished 21-12 last season and played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, marking their 13th postseason appearance in the last 14 years.
The Bison will look to avenge a loss to La Salle from last season when the Explorers visit Sojka Pavilion on Dec. 15. That will be Bucknell's first game coming out of the final exams break. La Salle finished 21-13 a year ago and earned an at-large bid to the NIT, where it fell to Minnesota in the first round.
Marist will be the final non-league foe to come to Lewisburg. The Red Foxes will visit on Dec. 19.
Bucknell and Penn State will clash for the first time since 2006 when the Bison travel to the Bryce Jordan Center on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. This will be the first of a three-game series between the two Central Pennsylvania programs, and in 2013-14 the Nittany Lions will come to Bucknell for the first time since 1976. This year's meeting in State College will be the 100th in a series that dates back to 1897.
The first of three Ivy League road games comes on Dec. 1, when the Bison travel to New York City to take on Columbia. Bucknell will also visit Princeton on Dec. 22 and Cornell on Jan. 2.
After an early loss to Bucknell at the Legends Classic, Princeton went on to finish 20-12 and 10-4 in the Ivy League, and they won a first-round game in the CBI Tournament. Bucknell's annual game with Cornell means a third straight year going up against Big Red head coach Bill Courtney, a former Bison hoops star. Courtney, a 1992 graduate, is a member of the Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame.
Bucknell will face another traditional in-state foe in Saint Francis (Pa.) in Loretto, Pa., on Dec. 17, two days before hosting Marist.
After a break for Christmas, Bucknell has an interesting road matchup with Loyola (Md.), which recently announced it would be joining the Patriot League in 2013-14. Jimmy Patsos' squad is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Greyhounds won a school-record 24 games against only nine losses, and they advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament title. Loyola dealt Bucknell a rare home loss last season, one year after Bucknell did the same to the Greyhounds at Reitz Arena.
Bucknell's final non-conference game will provide quite a test, as the Bison will face Missouri for the first time. The Tigers, who have moved from the Big 12 to the SEC this season, were one of the best teams in the country last year, despite an upset loss in the NCAA Tournament. Missouri finished 30-5 overall, 14-4 in the Big 12, and helped coach Frank Haith earn National Coach of the Year honors. After winning the Big 12 Tournament title, the second-seeded Tigers were upset by Norfolk State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Missouri, which is 77-4 at Mizzou Arena since 2008-09, welcomes 6-9 UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi, who the Bison saw in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Once the CBS Sports Network television schedule is finalized, the Patriot League portion of the schedule will be announced. Bucknell is tentatively scheduled to open league play at home against Army on Jan. 12.
Season tickets are currently on sale. Ticket applications can be found online. Call 570-577-1000 for more information on tickets.
Bucknell finished 25-10 last season and captured the Patriot League regular-season title with a 12-2 record. After falling to Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament championship game, the Bison defeated top-seeded Arizona in the first round of the NIT. Bucknell returns four starters this season, including All-Patriot Leaguers Mike Muscala, Joe Willman and Cameron Ayers, along with 2011 all-league pick Bryson Johnson.