When No. 15 seed Lehigh shocked No. 2 seed Duke in a thrilling upset on Friday night, the Mountain Hawks proved that they are talented enough to defeat No. 10 seed Xavier in the third round and advance to the Sweet 16 in the South region.
Not only does Lehigh have several players capable of scoring the basketball consistently, they also rebound the ball very well.
Lehigh only lost the rebound battle by three to a far superior group of Duke big men, and were able to do a nice job of grabbing defensive rebounds and getting into transition.
When Lehigh is operating their half-court offense, they run their sets very efficiently. Senior guard C.J. McCollum dominated the Blue Devils with 30 points, while also adding six points and six rebounds.
One thing McCollum and Lehigh as a team do extremely well is get to the free-throw line. The Mountain Hawks are aggressive on offense and take the ball to the basket with strength and determination. Against Duke, Lehigh shot 37 free throws, which was 14 more than the Blue Devils took.
Against Xavier in the third round, Lehigh has a great chance to win and advance to the Sweet 16 because of their ability to score in fast-paced, up-tempo games or slow, half-court battles.
The Musketeers barely beat Notre Dame on Friday, yet they shot 50 percent from the field and were 5-10 from the three-point line.
Lehigh did not shoot well from beyond the arc, but were able to take down a quality Duke team. If Lehigh shoots just a bit better than they did on Friday, they will defeat Xavier in another amazing upset.
Lehigh has a player who can take over the game offensively in McCollum, they get to the free-throw line often, and they rebound well. Those are three key ingredients to a successful run in the NCAA Tournament.
Lehigh will defeat Xavier in the third round and set up a Sweet 16 showdown with No. 3 Baylor or No. 11 Colorado.