Looking for a Sleeper? Meet Bucknell
The only team in Division I with as many victories as Bucknell is top-ranked, top-seeded Syracuse. The Bison (14-2) are not seeded, but in two weeks Bucknell could be the Cinderella story of the NCAA tournament.
Bucknell, the runaway Patriot League champion, has won eight straight games and is ranked higher (no. 7 in USILA coaches poll) than ever, as it prepares for Saturday's first-round matchup at seventh-seeded Virginia. The Bison, with their relentless, hustling defense that features a 10-man ride and a balanced, unselfish offense that has rounded into form since mid-season, are built to blow up the tournament bracket. Yes, Bucknell could shock second-seeded Cornell in the quarterfinals after it ends Virginia's season.
Under fifth-year coach Frank Fedorjaka, the Bison have never won this many games. Granted, with a strength of schedule ranked 35th in the nation, Bucknell has not feasted on any elite teams. Yet.
But, with junior Charlie Streep (25 goals) leading a productive midfield that also features junior midfielder Billy Eisenreich -- fully recovered from a midseason shoulder injury with 17 goals and 13 assists -- and senior attackman Ryan Klipstein (30, 19) finishing and dishing so well, the Bison have it all going on at the right time.
Bucknell plays fast and loose but also performs with a great sense of intelligent tempo. And, with an extra eye on conditioning dating to last fall, the Bison have become an excellent team in tight games.
Watch these guys. They promise to be a tough out.