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Patriot League championship: Bucknell is back in the NCAA Tournament

The Bison return to the Big Dance for the second year in a row.

NCAA Basketball: Bucknell at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Bucknell is back in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bison defeated Colgate for the third time this year, 83-54, on Wednesday to win the 2018 Patriot League championship and earn the conference’s automatic bid.

The 29-point win was the biggest blowout in the history of the Patriot League championship game. Overall, Bucknell shot over 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. The Bison were led by their “Big Three,” none other than seniors Stephen Brown, Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland.

Thomas and Foulland didn’t actually have much of an offensive impact tonight but their interior protection was clear because they combined for 21 rebounds. Meanwhile Brown had one of his best games with 22 points, six assists, and zero turnovers.

Nate Sestina was huge off the bench as well. When Foulland and Thomas weren’t shooting so well, coach Nathan Thomas decided to set Sestina lose. He only played 18 minutes, but scored 16 points and recorded four rebounds in that time span.

Colgate tried to play scrappy per-usual and managed to stay aggressive in the paint, but its shots didn’t fall (32 percent for the game).

The Raiders will lose two key players in Jordan Swopshire and Sean O’Brien, but their core will remain largely in tact for next year. Will Rayman has always been their go-to guy and he will be back for two more years and key playmaker Jordan Burns will be just a sophomore next year.

However, things couldn’t have been better for Bucknell today. The Bison won dramatically at home and Davis even got to rest his starters for the last five minutes of the game.

Bucknell figures to be around the 14 line in the NCAA Tournament — a spot it has won in in the past (the Bison defeated 3 seed Kansas in 2003). Of course they’ll find out where they are headed on Selection Sunday, but for now, they know their spot in the field is safe.