On Wednesday, March 13, the Colgate Men’s Basketball team clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996. The win was just another milestone in a season filled with record-breaking performances. The win moved Colgate to 24-10 on the season, smashing last year’s record 19 wins. The win also pushed the team to a win streak of eleven games, a program record and currently the seventh longest in the nation.  

The 94-80 win over the Bucknell Bison on Wednesday capped a dominant late-season run by the Raiders. Standing at 13-10 with eight games left in the regular season, the Raiders dominated the final half of league play going undefeated and taking the first seed in the Patriot League conference tournament. This stretch was highlighted by a mid-February win over Bucknell 75-64, the first time the team had defeated the Bison in three years.

The Colgate team was led by sophomore guard Jordan Burns, who, after missing the middle of the season with an injury, proved to be a key contributor down the stretch. On Wednesday, Burns’ high-level performance earned him national attention as he scored 35 points including six three-pointers. The team was also helped by a pair of junior forwards, Will Rayman and Rapolas Ivanauskas, who scored 18 and 14 points, respectively. After failing the Patriot League final last year at Bucknell, the victory provided redemption for the Raiders. 

Securing this Patriot League win means that the Raiders have clinched one of the thirty-two automatic bids awarded to conference champions into the NCAA tournament and wait to see their seeding in the tournament on Sunday, March 17. Currently, the Raiders are projected to be the No.15 seed in the south region and would match up against Duke in the first round of the tournament in a game held in Columbus, OH.

“We worked really hard for this and it's great to finally achieve our goal. Hopefully, now we can continue to build off of this and keep the program going in the right direction,” Assistant Coach Pat Moore said.

As a team from a weaker conference, it is also possible that Colgate may never see the field of 64, and instead have to participate in a “play-in” game as a potential No.16 in order to win the right to play in the tournament. The committee’s final decision will be announced on CBS at 6 p.m. and Colgate Athletics will host a Selection Watch Party at Cotterell Court, with doors opening at 5 p.m. The last time the Colgate Raiders made the tournament, they were led by future NBA lottery pick Adonal Foyle in 1996.

Contact Gideon Hamot at ghamot@colgate.edu.

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