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Previewing Bucknell: Bison bring experience, solid mid-major credentials

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: Noon ET, Saturday, Dec. 5

TV: RSN

Online streamingESPN3

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Bucknell vitals

Record: 3-4
Pomeroy ranking: No. 173
Best win***: 80-67 over Manhattan (KenPom No. 265)
Worst loss: 62-58 to Penn State (KenPom No. 161)

(***Best win or loss based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not the scoring margin.)

Adjusted tempo: 72.3 poss/40 minutes (ranks 89th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 101.8 (ranks 176th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 102.5 (ranks 184th)

Bucknell roster
Bucknell schedule
Bucknell stats 2015 2016

The Bucknell offense and starters

Bucknell Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 49.7 (131) 17.1 (59) 29.6 (222) 40.3 (89)
2015-16 46.7 (237) 19.3 (212) 27.7 (241) 50.9 (19)

The Bison are more than 10 years removed from a memorable upset of Kansas in the NCAA tournament, but while they might not have made a lot of national waves since then, it's not like they've gone anywhere. Heck, the year after the KU upset, they were a legit NCAA nine-seed and beat Arkansas in the first round. The Bison have had winning records in the Patriot League in eight of the 10 seasons since 2005.

So they've been a Patriot League mainstay, which eventually will lead to some coaching turnover--George Mason hired away head coach Dave Paulsen following last season. Bucknell brought in former assistant Nathan Davis, who'd spent the last six years as the head coach at his alma-mater, Randolph-Macon.

As is often the case with a first-year head coach, the fingerprints aren't yet obvious (especially after, y'know, just a half dozen games or so). Bucknell is attempting more three-pointers than it has in the past, and it's also getting to the line a bit more often, but Davis inherited the bulk of the Bison's 2015 major contributors, which should leave the team plenty familiar in the end.

Davis seems to prefer a more up-tempo attack, as the Bison have gone from 167th in adjusted tempo last season to 90th this year, and perhaps the additional three-point attempts are part of that scheme. The change has done nothing to make Bucknell more efficient at the offensive end, however.

Starters

Stephen Brown (5-11, 160) -- Playing a lot more minutes as sophomore, but remains an afterthought at the offensive end. Only an occasional three-point shooter, and not a good one. He's been excellent at drawing fouls, though he was only 19-40 from the stripe in 2015; he's already 15-18 this season. Decent passer, but also turnover-prone.

Ryan Frazier (6-0, 185) -- Well, uh, ... he's a decent free throw shooter.

Chris Hass (6-5, 190) -- Hass has been a high-usage player in his 2+ seasons of college ball. He's a career 37.9% three-point shooter and career 45.7% two-point shooter, with his attempts split about evenly between the bonusphere and regulartown. Great free throw shooter who leads the team in scoring for the second consecutive season.

Zach Thomas (6-7, 220) -- Thomas is taking more than 30% of Bucknell's shots while he's on the floor, which has worked out fine despite the fact that he's 6-23 from deep. Last year he shot really well from three (18-35) but poorly from two, and this year the situation is reversed. The things that have been consistent: his tendency to turn the ball over, his ability to draw fouls, and a high free throw percentage.

Nana Foulland (6-9, 225) -- Played well as a primary option in his freshman season, knocking down 54.7% of his twos. He rebounds well at both ends, but is better on the offensive glass. Will block some shots, draw some fouls. Off to a bit of a cold start to his sophomore campaign shooting from the field.

The Bucknell bench and defense

Reserves: Dom Hoffman (6-7, 200), Kimbal Mackenzie (6-1, 190), Nate Jones (6-4, 200), D.J. MacLeay (6-7, 225). Jones and Mackenzie are freshmen, and neither has assumed much offense. Jones so far has been a three-point specialist, with 13 of 16 FGAs coming from beyond the arc. Mackenzie is filling the backup point guard role.

MacLeay is of little interest aside from his tremendous offensive rebounding. The only real gunner off the bench is Hoffman, who has attempted 35 shots in 98 minutes of playing time. Is this good for Bucknell? Well ... actually it's been okay, at least so far. Bucknell is relying heavily on the Hass-Thomas-Foulland triumvirate to lead the offense, which is fine, but there's just not a lot of depth off the bench.

Hoffman's career numbers aren't exceptional, but they'll do fine in a sixth-man role, and he brings some above-average rebounding to the floor as well. He also seems to have developed some range during the offseason, since 11 of his 16 career three-point tries (in 3+ seasons) have been this season. He's hit four of those 11.

Bucknell Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 49.9 (207) 14.5 (347) 25.9 (16) 38.4 (210)
2015-16 47.6 (126) 15.9 (288) 31.0 (197) 40.4 (224)

Bucknell had an incredible run in the defensive rebounding department from 2012 through 2015, finishing 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 16th nationally. Dave Paulsen apparently is a defensive rebounding guru--he's got his Mason team 22nd in DR% this season, up 111 spots from a year ago.

With Paulsen gone, though, the Bison have slipped in that category without making any notable improvements in their  turnover or free throw rates. That's a problem.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 10.