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NCAA Basketball

Lehigh’s Loss of C.J. McCollum Opens the Door For Bucknell in the Patriot League

Dak Dillon-USA Today Sports

By now, college basketball fans are well aware of the injury to Lehigh star C.J. McCollum.

The nation’s leading scorer broke a bone in his foot over the weekend and is expected to miss the next 8-10 weeks. The injury not only dampens the Mountain Hawks’ chances of once again advancing to the NCAA Tournament, but it could in turn end McCollum’s collegiate career. His scoring efforts and overall skill set has quickly moved him up many NBA Draft boards and for good reason.

On the flip side of the devastating injury however, is the opportunity it presents fellow Patriot League rival, Bucknell.

At 13-3 on the season, Bucknell has already made its case as a premier mid-major threat come March, but given the league’s size, only one berth into the NCAA Tournament would probably have been granted. Many speculated a Lehigh, Bucknell race down the stretch and although that still could be the case, the Bison clearly have the advantage after the news of McCollum’s injury.

McCollum burst onto the scene last season, finally gaining the national recognition he had earned in his time at Lehigh, by helping the Mountain Hawks shock second-seeded Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Aspirations of more excitement may however, have gone out the window with the recent news.

From a Patriot League standpoint however, Bucknell could be in the driver’s seat now to offer the same potential. This is thanks in large part to production of senior forward Mike Muscala, who has seemingly been overshadowed by McCollum.

Don’t know the name? Well, you should. Muscala is averaging 19.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this season and is the main reason why the Bison have won 13 games thus far. In fact, their most recent game showcased their potential even more, as the Bison came up just short at Missouri in a 66-64 loss this past Saturday.

League play kicks into high gear this week for Bucknell, as the opportunity to play their way into March may be higher than ever.

 

Paul Seaver is the College Basketball Network Manager at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS