There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the South Region’s 2-15 matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and the 15th-seeded Lehigh Mountain Hawks.
Duke-Lehigh Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #2 Duke v #15 Lehigh in South Region
- Duke-Lehigh Date: Friday, 3/16
- Duke-Lehigh Tip Time: 7:15 ET
- Duke-Lehigh Location: Greensboro
- Duke-Lehigh TV: TBS
- Duke-Lehigh Announcers: Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg
- Duke-Lehigh Point Spread: Duke -12
- Tickets: Duke-Lehigh Tickets
- Tickets: All Greensboro Sessions
- Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Boston
Duke-Lehigh Analysis and Prediction
Lehigh has a star in guard C.J. McCollum, but I don’t see him pulling a Harold “The Show” Arceneaux-esque performance out of his hat.
Duke should be able to get whatever they want on offense and advance to the second round.
Predicted Winner: Duke
Duke Blue Devils Team Capsule
- Conference: ACC
- Record: 27-6 (13-3 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 8-2
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 9-5
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Belmont, Colorado State, Davidson, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Florida State (2), North Carolina, Ohio State, Temple
- Player to Watch: Austin Rivers (6’4” G, Fr.) – 15.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg
Duke Bottoms Line:
For all the criticism about how flawed the Blue Devils are this year, they still had a strong season with a number of quality wins and finished alone in second place in the ACC. Duke ranks in the Top 10 in offensive efficiency, and they are in the Top 40 in effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, and free throw rate.
Freshman Austin Rivers got better as the season went along, and he can beat defenders off the dribble or with the three-point shot. Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Andre Dawkins all make at least 39 percent from beyond the arc, with Curry also leading the team in assists and steals. Kelly gives the Blue Devils a big man capable of stretching opposing defenses and open up driving lanes, but he missed the ACC Tournament with a foot injury. His status for the Big Dance is unknown, but I would expect him to play.
Down low, Mason and Miles Plumlee are the team’s two leading rebounders, and both shoot over 55 percent from the field. Unlike most recent Duke teams, this squad really struggles on the defensive end. The Blue Devils do a decent job of defending the three-point line and keeping opponents off of the free throw line, but they struggle to stop dribble penetration and have been hurt on the glass.
It will certainly be en vogue to pick against Duke based on some of their issues, but it’s also tough to bet against Coach K in March.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks Team Capsule
- Conference: Patriot
- Record: 26-7 (11-3 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 0-2
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: None
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Iowa State, Michigan State
- Player to Watch: C.J. McCollum (6’3″ G, Jr.) – 21.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 spg
Lehigh Bottoms Line:
The Mountain Hawks are dancing after winning the Patriot League Championship Game on first place Bucknell’s home court, which will give the nation a chance to see C.J. McCollum, who is one of the nation’s most explosive scorers. He has a high usage rate but has also posted strong numbers in a variety of statistical categories, including defensive rebounding percentage, assist rate, turnover rate, free throw rate, and steal percentage. Big man Gabe Knutson is effective on the offensive glass and is adept at drawing fouls down low, while forward Holden Greiner can play both inside and out.
Lehigh takes great care of the basketball and is third in the nation in free throw shooting, but a mediocre free throw rate doesn’t allow them to take full advantage of that. On defense, the Mountain Hawks are solid but unspectacular and rank between 60th and 120th in all four factors on KenPom. Don’t count on Lehigh to pull a major upset, but McCollum certainly won’t go down without a fight.
Related: Jump to our South Region Bracket Breakdown
See our other individual game previews:
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont