Xavier vs Lehigh: Prediction

March 17th, 2012

(10) Xavier vs. (15) Lehigh: South Region

 

Records

Xavier 22-12, 10-6 A-10 (At large)

Lehigh 27-7, 11-3 Patriot League (Conference Tournament Champions)

 

Time: 7:45 p.m. Sunday

 

TV: TruTV

 

Location: Greensboro Arena in Greensboro, N.C.

 

Winner will face: (3) Baylor or (11) Colorado, Friday in Atlanta

 

First round results

Xavier def. Notre Dame, 67-63

Lehigh def. Duke, 75-70

 

RPI Ratings

Xavier 44

Lehigh 91

 

Line: Xavier -2½ (O/U 139½)

 

Players to Watch

 

Xavier: G Tu Holloway, 6-0 Sr. (17 ppg, 5.1 apg, 1.5 spg); G/F Dezmine Wells, 6-5 Fr. (10.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 51.8% FG); G Mark Lyons, 6-1 Jr. (15.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg). Walker got to the foul line 10 times in Friday’s 67-63 win over Notre Dame. He hit eight of them and grabbed six big boards as a key performer in the victory.

 

Lehigh: G C.J. McCollum, 6-3 Jr. (21.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 spg); F Gabe Knutson, 6-9 Jr. (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 50.2% FG); G Mackey McKnight, 6-0 So. (8.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.8 rpg). Knutson was perfect in Friday’s upset of Duke, going 5-for-5 from the field. He was also 6-for-7 from the charity stripe for a 17-point, 8-rebound performance.

 

Why Each Team Dangerous

 

Xavier: The Musketeers showed their impressive balance in Friday’s win over Notre Dame. All five starters scored at least eight points. Best of all, Holloway was brilliant with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting. If Xavier is going to advance, it’s going to be with Holloway leading the way. Xavier shot 50 percent in the win. For the season, they shoot 45.3 percent from the floor and 34.9 from the 3-point line. The Xavier defense allowed the Irish to shoot 51 percent, but for the season, it is holding opponents to 40 percent from the field and 12.7 turnovers per game.

 

Lehigh: McCollum is one of the best guards in the country. He proved it Friday, gashing Duke for 30 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. The best news was that he got plenty of help from his teammates. Despite a serious size disadvantage against the Blue Devils, Lehigh held them to 41.4 percent from the field and just 6-for-26 from 3 and out-rebounded Duke 37-34. This team is tough and it won’t go down without a fight.

 

Why Each Team is Vulnerable

 

Xavier: The Musketeers only turned the ball over 10 times against Notre Dame, but errors remain a concern. The Musketeer defense held the ND starting guards to 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting, but they’ll need to be even better against McCollum and McKnight. The Musketeers are sometimes prone to dribble penetration, something at which the Mountain Hawks excel.

 

Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks assist on only 51.3 percent of their field goal for the season and had just 12 assists on 22 field goals on Friday. Part of that is because the team can get stagnant watching McCollum work. If he’s having a bad game, Lehigh could be in trouble. For the season, the Hawks are shooting just 44.8 percent from the field and have just a 1.8 rebounding margin per game. They’ll have to improve on their 25-for-37 free throw shooting to continue to advance.

 

The Bottom Line: Lehigh isn’t a fluke. This team is quite good and has a legit shot at getting to a regional final.

 

The Pick: Lehigh 71, Xavier 67

 

 

Greg Against the Spread This Season: 216-165-6 (Through Friday, March 17)

Round of 32 Against the Spread: 19-12-1