By Cooper Sutton
Sports Editor, The Bucknellian
The Bison are 2-0 against Lafayette this year, and in the one game they played in Lewisburg, they took down the Leopards by almost 20 points. Once again, in this game the Bison will be favored over Lafayette, but this time the game means much more.
No doubt, the Leopards will be a stern test for a relatively inexperienced Bison squad. The Lafayette offense seems like it could explode at any time and should provide a tough game for defensive player of the year Bryan Cohen ’12 and his teammates.
Look for the championship atmosphere of an excited Sojka Pavilion, which sold out in less than a day, along with the incredible balance of the Bison to carry the first-place team to victory.
As was shown last time these two teams matched up, even when the best player is pinned down, others can step up to take his place. Look for more than just Patriot League MVP Mike Muscala ’13 to carry the team in this game. In the end, the talented, first-place Bison squad will prove to be just too much for the sixth-place Leopards, winning 75-68.
Eric Goldwein (Sports Editor, The Lafayette):
Two weeks ago, the Bison marched into Easton, Pa. as a heavy favorite but barely escaped in an overtime victory. The Leopards handled Patriot League player of the year Mike Muscala ’13, who went just 4-12, but a heroic performance from Bryson Johnson [’13] gave the Bison the victory. On that night, Lafayette proved they could play with the Patriot League’s finest.
That being said, there is no harder challenge than defeating the Bison on their home court, let alone this squad, which has lost only once since Christmas and hasn’t lost a home game since November. But Lafayette has already overcome the odds this post-season. The Leopards snapped an eight-game losing streak at the Hart Center with their victory over Holy Cross in the quarterfinals. The Leopards had not defeated American in half a decade but put an end to that trend on Sunday. Until now, a six-seeded team has never reached the Patriot League Championship game.
Like most of the Patriot League playoff matchups, the championship will be decided in the final minutes. If Lafayette can convert from long-distance and keep Muscala and Johnson under control, another streak will come to an end: Lafayette 70, Bucknell 69.