Yesterday I happened to stumble across this tweet from Bucknell forward Nana Foulland, who appears to have leaked a portion of the Bison's schedule.
@ NC State n @ RMU next year. #BUbball— B Savage (@GraciousTaco) June 16, 2015
Going back to Jeff Dunlap's big board, from a now-deleted video on NC State's scheduling process, we know for certain that the Pack has a handful of guarantee game slots to fill for this season. Bucknell would be one of those.
There also is the criteria that NC State's staff uses to evaluate and choose non-conference opponents, and by those standards, Bucknell is a natural fit. The Bison won the Patriot League regular season title in 2015, finishing with a 13-5 conference record and a top-150 RPI. They lost in their conference tourney, but acquitted themselves well on the road in a loss to Temple in the NIT. They also played at Wake Forest, Villanova, and Michigan last season--they were competitive in the Wake and Nova contests.
Bucknell has consistently been a good program in the Patriot League and is only a few seasons removed from a 28-6 campaign that earned it an 11-seed in the NCAAs. The Bison are projected to return five of their top six scorers from 2014-15, so they should once again be a frontrunner within their league.
With some improvement, they could perhaps be a top-100 RPI team in 2016, and this is exactly the sort of scenario that State looks for. As an added bonus, Bucknell wasn't nearly as good (193rd in Pomeroy Ratings) as their RPI positioning (139th) suggested, which is how you want to work the system. That big +54 differential between Pomeroy and RPI is the essence of schedukong, my friends.