Colgate punches March Madness ticket; 12 teams with automatic bids

March 14 (UPI) — The Colgate Raiders clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament with a 94-80 win over Bucknell in the Patriot League title game Wednesday.

It was the 11th consecutive victory for Colgate, a school record. With the win, the Raiders are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996.

“It was everything that a championship game should be,” Colgate head coach Matt Langel told reporters. “The crowd was fantastic and all of the players in the game competed like crazy. Obviously we’re happy with the lead we got in the first half, and Bucknell made a run.

“I credit our guys with staying unflappable. We weren’t bothered by the fact that a 13-point lead evaporated in a matter of seconds and we stuck to our plan in playing tough and staying together and taking what the defense gives you. I’m thrilled to be their coach and to have this championship go down in Colgate history.”

Raiders guard Jordan Burns dropped a career-high 35 points and Will Rayman added 18 points and seven rebounds to pace the team.

Junior forward Rapolas Ivanauskas added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Kimbal Mackenzie led Bucknell with 23 points and added three rebounds and three assists. Nate Sestina recorded 21 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Avi Toomer added 10 points, four boards and three assists.

With Selection Sunday approaching this weekend, 12 teams have already clinched automatic berths into the NCAA tournament.

Bradley (Missouri Valley), Gardner-Webb (Big South), Liberty (Atlantic Sun), Murray State (Ohio Valley), Wofford (Southern), Iona (Mid-Atlantic Athletic), Northeastern (Colonial Athletic), Northern Kentucky (Horizon), Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast), North Dakota State (Summit), Saint Mary’s (West Coast) and Colgate (Patriot League) have earned spots in the tournament with conference title wins.

The remaining conference tournament games will wrap up Sunday before the bracket is revealed.

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