LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bison are going dancing in Dallas and the media world is buzzing.
CBS Sportsline.com writes about the "Most Likely Upset" and has Bucknell beating Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. "Bucknell winning will be viewed as an upset because Arkansas has the brand name and former president (Bill Clinton) rooting for it," writes senior writer Dennis Dodd.
Today's Chicago Tribune asks, Who's hot? "The easy answer is everybody," but the reporter goes on to note that "Bucknell, a Cinderella last year when it upset Kansas, has lost (only) once since Jan. 2."
Many news outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and SportsIllustrated.com, are running the story on the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports report that determined that 38 of the NCAA schools graduated 70 percent of their white athletes, while only 21 graduated that many black players. At 25 schools, the percentage gap was 30 points or greater. It reported, "The best graduation rates were at Bucknell, Florida, Illinois, Villanova, Davidson, Pacific, Indiana, Washington, Marquette, and Xavier. Florida, Illinois, Villanova and Bucknell all graduated 100 percent of their players."
The Dallas Morning News notes that the No. 9 seeded Bison went 14-0 in league play during the regular season and won all three conference tournament games by double digits. While several of the No. 8 seeded University of Arkansas Razorbacks admitted they didn't know much about Bucknell, the feeling appears to be mutual for their Pennsylvania-based opponents.
Said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery: "To be honest, we don't know a whole lot yet about Arkansas, other than that they played very good basketball down the stretch."
Flannery talked about getting the No.9 seed in The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa.
"Being a 9 and getting that kind of respect from the committee, I mean these guys are gurus. It's not like they just pick out of a hat. So, obviously, there was a lot of respect for our program."
He added in The Daily Item of Sunbury, Pa.: "Arkansas is a huge task. We don't know a lot about them. They are a good perimeter shooting team and are very athletic. But you expect to play good people when you get a No. 9 seed."
A report in The Mercury (Calif.) News called the Bucknell-Arkansas match-up one of the best. "Arkansas-Bucknell is a good one, as 8-9 games should be. The Hogs want an uptempo pace; the Bison will want a more deliberate pace. While the Hogs have a lot of good athletes and a lot of big guys, Bucknell is more athletic than you think and G Kevin Bettencourt is a sharpshooter."
Commentator John Feinstein, writing in The Washington Post, said all Arkansas needs to do is say "Kansas" to keep his team focused. "The Bison, as they proved last year in beating Kansas, play the kind of defense that will make them a tough out for almost anyone. Having said that, Arkansas will give them trouble with their quickness and could do the same to Memphis. Razorbacks Coach Stan Heath will only have to say 'Kansas' to keep his team focused on the Bison."
USA Today noted, among other things, that Bucknell was the first Patriot League ever ranked in the national polls. And… "They are the first Patriot team to go undefeated in league play. Praised by American coach Jeff Jones "as the best Patriot League team I have seen," Bucknell is among the nation's best defensive teams, allowing 55.1 a game.
The Northwest Arkansas Times focused on the Razorbacks' reaction to the CBS announcer Seth Davis' prediction seconds after the Bucknell-Arkansas pairing was announced. He said the Hogs wouldn't get past Bucknell. "That's something that grabbed our attention right away," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "They have a lot of veterans back from last year. We don't want to just be a happy team just to get into the tournament. We want to go in there to win some games."
The story lead on another Northwest Arkansas Times story framed the match-up this way: "The Bucknell Bison may not strike fear into the hearts of Razorbacks fans, but Arkansas' first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament may be one of the best teams that Hog fans know little about."
(Tip-off for the Bucknell-Arkansas match-up is 12:30 p.m. (E) Friday. Check local schedules for CBS broadcast information.)
Posted March 13, 2006