NCAA Tournament Predictions: East Region: 6. Butler vs. 11. Bucknell

Guard Rotnei Clarke (AP/Eugene Tanner)

Guard Rotnei Clarke (AP/Eugene Tanner)

 6 Butler (26-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10)- As long as Brad Stevens is at the helm, the Bulldogs are a dangerous NCAA Tournament team. Butler has defeated two No. 1 seeds in Indiana and Gonzaga this season, and also beat Marquette and North Carolina in the Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs are led by sharpshooting Rotnei Clarke, who averages 16.7 points per game and has the potential to go off in the NCAAs. Big man Andrew Smith (6-11, 243 lbs) is tough to handle inside and will match up well against the rest of the region’s post players, including Bucknell’s Mike Muscala.

Roosevelt Jones could be an X-factor for Butler. At just 6-4, he plays like a power forward and can bruise you inside. Jones has a creaky jumper, but perfect touch on his floater, as Gonzaga found out. Khyle Marshall is another key for the ‘Dawgs inside. He can be prone to foul trouble, but really knows how to score inside and does everything the team needs him to do. The Bulldogs are a deep team with a lot of weapons, though they don’t have that one guy who scares you like Gordon Hayward or Matt Howard once did.


8th Defensive Rebounds Per Game (29.0)

72nd Field Goal Percentage (45.3)


Center Mike Muscala (AP Photo)

Center Mike Muscala (AP Photo)

 11 Bucknell (28-5, 12-2 Patriot League)- The Bison have an NBA prospect at center, and that alone makes them dangerous in the NCAA Tournament. Senior Mike Muscala averages 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, and has the requisite athleticism and defensive prowess that could make him an NBA draft pick come June. Bucknell owns wins over Purdue and La Salle, and nearly defeated Missouri in Columbia in early January. Junior guard Cameron Ayers (12.5 ppg) and 6-7 senior Joe Willman (10.3 ppg) give the Bison plenty of scoring depth, as does speedy guard Byron Johnson (11.1 ppg). Patriot League champ Lehigh shocked Duke as the 15-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, so there’s no reason to think Bucknell can’t do the same.

This could be a very interesting matchup inside, with Muscala going up against Smith and the rest of Butler’s undersized front line. The Bulldogs are not a great offensive rebounding team, so Bucknell should be able to hold them to one-and-done on most trips. That could be a huge advantage.


177th Points Per Game (67.3)

127th Assists Per Game (13.4)

67th Field Goal Percentage (.456)


PREDICTION:  Bucknell 



One Comment

  1. Pingback: Predictions for the NCAA Tournament Bracket

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *