Now that the East, West, South, and Midwest brackets have been covered, it's time to look forward to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. KC shared some early thoughts and I'm going to run through some of their team numbers through the year in an effort to let everyone know what to expect on Thursday night.
Lehigh earned their way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Patriot League tournament, beating the Lafayette Leopards in the Patriot League championship. The Mountain Hawks (that's an awesome nickname!) also won the Patriot League regular season going 10-4 in conference play. They've been beaten three times since the middle of January, losing to the Navy Midshipmen, the Lafayette Leopards (another great nickname) and some team named the Bison. Lehigh led the Patriot Conference in points per game, averaging 79.1 points. They averaged 1.12 points per possession and allowed 1.01 points per possession in conference play this year.
The Four Factors
1) Effective Field Goal%: (61st) The Mountain Hawks led the Patriot League in eFG% and are 61st in the nation. This is carried by the 9th best 3-point percentage in the nation, as they shoot 40.1% from behind the arc. Even though they shoot 3's well, they don't shoot a lot of them. They were second from last in their conference in 3 point attempts and only get 26% of their points from threes.
2) Turnover %: (74th) Lehigh takes care of the ball a little bit better than average, turning it over on 18.5% of their possessions. It should be interesting to see how they handle the pressure defense Kansas will put on them.
3) Offensive Rebound %: (251) Lehigh isn't a great offensive rebounding team and that should continue to be the case for the remainder of their season. Cole Aldrich and the Morri should eat up defensive rebounds in this game. Gabe Knutson is their tallest player that gets significant minutes at 6'9'', their next tallest player that gets more than 10 minutes a game is Holden Greiner at 6'7''. Lets just hope there are some rebounds to be had.
4) Free Throw Rate: (57th) This category is Lehigh's second strength. Their free throw rate in conference play was 45.2 and they shoot 71.7% for the year from the charity stripe. CJ McCollum and Zahir Carrington led them in free throw attempts this year. McCollum's a 6-3 freshman guard, so I'm guessing he likes to attack the basket.
1) Effective Field Goal %: (147) The Mountain Hawks allowed a 48.3 eFG% on the season. In conference play, their opponents took more threes against them than anyone else. The opponents also made 34% of those threes.
2) Turnover %: (225) Lehigh doesn't turn the ball over a lot and don't force a lot of turnovers. They finished right in the middle of the Patriot Conference in turnover percentage. The Mountain Hawks were second in the conference in block percentage at 6.4%.
3) Offensive Rebound %: (62) While they weren't a great offensive rebounding team, they also didn't let their opponents get a high percentage of offensive rebounds. Their leading defensive rebounders are Carrington, Knutson, and McCollum.
4) Free Throw Rate: (54) For as well as they get to the line, they're just as good at keeping their opponents away from the free throw line. They were in the bottom half of the Patriot League in fouls per game (18.6) and third in opponents free throw attempts.
- I've got a feeling watching CJ McCollum will be a treat. We won't see him look the best he has all year but a 6'3'' guard that's third on their team in rebounding has me intrigued.
- The big men should eat these guys alive.
- I'm expecting a fairly close first half followed by KU running away in the 2nd half. Lehigh could come out and hit a few threes before the defense has a chance to speed them up and finish the game.