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Ten Things to Know About the Lehigh, Duke Game

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks make their fifth March Madness appearance against the vaunted Duke Blue Devils tonight. Here's what you need to know.

 

  1. Let’s get this out of the way first: History is not on the Mountain Hawks' side. To wit, Lehigh has met Duke on the basketball court four times in the schools’ histories and lost ugly every time. The average margin of victory for the Blue Devils was 40 points. The last Lehigh loss to Duke was the ugliest – a 103-51 drubbing in 1996.
  2. Lehigh has gone to March Madness just four times before in school history. Each time, the Mountain Hawks lost in the first round. The last time was two years ago when Lehigh lost to the Kansas Jayhawks, 90-74.
  3. The Duke Blue Devils, on the other hand, have won four national championships – all since 1991. This year marks Duke’s 17th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Duke comes into this game ranked eighth in the country in the coaches' poll.
  4. A Lehigh victory would be historic, and not just for the reasons cited in numbers 1 through 3. Lehigh is seeded 15th in the South Region. Duke is seeded second. Since the NCAA went to no less than 64 tournament teams in 1985, the 15th seed has won its opening round game just four times – the last time in 2001. Counting Loyola (Md.)’s loss to Ohio State on Thursday night, 15th seeds have lost 105 times.
  5. Lehigh played two other tournament teams during the regular season – Iowa State, the eighth seed in the South, and Michigan State, the top seed in the West. Though they lost both games, they played credibly in both. The Mountain Hawks even led the Spartans by three points at the half of their December game in East Lansing.
  6. Another shot of hope? While Lehigh, statistically, is worse than Duke in points per game, shooting percentage and rebounding, the Mountain Hawks enjoy advantages in turnovers, steals and free throw percentage.
  7. Lehigh’s key player is C.J. McCollum, a junior guard who could probably play for any college team in the country. His 21.9 points per game was the fifth best in the nation and he led his team in virtually every statistical category. McCollum grew up in Canton, Ohio and is a journalism major.
  8. Duke doesn’t really have one key player. Duke has a starting lineup that is the envy of most programs, including a pair of 6-foot-10 forwards, brothers Miles and Mason Plumlee, who will tower over everyone else on the court tonight. Freshman guard Austin Rivers led the team in scoring and was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year.
  9. Duke’s recent relentless string of success has made it among the most loved, but also one of the most hated, sports teams in the country. They are kind of like the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys of college basketball. So if Lehigh does pull off the unlikely upset, it will spark celebration from coast-to-coast, not just in South Bethlehem.
  10. The game will be easy to find on your television. While the NCAA has this year scattered the tournament across three cable channels, in addition to the national network broadcasts, you won’t have to figure out where your cable provider hides TruTV to see this one. Duke vs. Lehigh will be the featured attraction on network CBS – Channel 3, KYW, for most of you, starting at 7:15 p.m.

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