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Lehigh Basketball: Why the Mountain Hawks Won't Be This Year's VCU

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16:  (R) Mackey McKnight #11 of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks reacts late in the second half before the Mountain Hawks defeat the Duke Blue Devils 75-70 during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2012

First things first—the fact that Lehigh upset Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament was one of the most improbable and totally awesome upsets ever. Way to go, Mountain Hawks.

And I fully believe that Lehigh, behind stud junior C.J. McCollum, can upset Xavier and advance to the Sweet 16.

But that's about as far as I think they'll go.

Here's the thing: Duke was as good of a matchup against a No. 2 seed as they could have drawn.

The Blue Devils were a poor defensive team that was overly reliant on perimeter scoring all season long, and the Mountain Hawks got to play them on a night when Seth Curry and Austin Rivers were a combined 6-of-23 from the field.

They got a Duke team that shot 6-of-26 on its three-point shots.

And they got a Duke team that was without injured forward Ryan Kelly and the 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game he brings to the table.

I'm not making excuses for Duke or belittling Lehigh's win in any way—they handled their business. But they also had the perfect storm of upset factors strike in Round 2, and I simply don't think those conditions will be replicated again.

I hope I'm wrong—it would be a great story if the Mountain Hawks advanced deep into this tournament.

I just don't see it happening.

Even if they beat Xavier, they'll have Baylor to deal with. Frankly, I don't think Lehigh will have an answer for Perry Jones III, and Quincy Acy is too tough on the block.

And even if they shock Baylor, the odds are pretty good that they'll meet Kentucky in the Elite Eight. As much as I love a good David vs. Goliath storyline, Kentucky facing Lehigh would be more like a Mighty Mouse vs. Superman storyline.

Really, having Kentucky looming off in the distance is the main reason I don't see Lehigh advancing to the Final Four like VCU did last year. Kentucky's dominance this year casts a shadow of fear over the entirety of the South Region.

So I'm afraid Lehigh won't be making a run to the Final Four. The Cinderella story will end for the Mountain Hawks rather early, spoiling their chance to be the belles of the ball this year.

But you'll always have Duke, Lehigh.

And that's pretty awesome.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—I've tweeted from Lehigh's campus before. Seriously.

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