Lehigh Beats Duke

March 16, 2012 in Snips

Lehigh Wins!

Centives’ projections about Lehigh’s chances in the game seem to have been accurate. After a tough first half Lehigh led for most of the second half to win by a slender 5 point margin. This is the second largest margin by which a #15 seed has beaten a #2 seed. (In 1997 #15 Coppin State beat #2 South Carolina by 13 points.)

In our write-up we noted that it had been over a decade since a #15 seed had beaten a #2 seed and it was about time that it happened again. It turns out the 11 year gap between such an event happening (the longest in NCAA history) was enough for the gods of probability to dictate that it would happen twice this year. Over in Nebraska the #15 seeded Norfolk State Spartans are also celebrating.

The last time 2010 champions Duke were eliminated in the second round was five years ago, although the team back them was ranked much lower with a seed of #6. Lehigh is responsible for handing them their worst showing since 2007.

In this tournament Duke has under-performed against teams from Pennsylvania. While they have an overall win percentage of 79% for this season, against teams from the Keystone state they have won just 33% of their games.

Lehigh will either be playing #7 Notre Dame or #10 Xavier in the next round. Notre Dame is more highly ranked, however, in the five times in history that a #15 seed has gone on to the next round, three of the times they have gone up against the #10 seed. Could Xavier pull out a shock victory?

In 2010, the last time that Lehigh played in the NCAA, Lehigh lost to Kansas by a fairly wide margin (90-74). Guard CJ McCollum’s performance remained reasonably consistent over the two games. In 2010 he scored 26 points versus the 30 points he scored in 2012. But Forward Gabe Knutson showed a significant improvement. In 2010 he was responsible for 8 points; in 2012 he contributed the most after McCollum with 17 points.

But basketball is, of course, a team game. The difference this time around was Lehigh’s defense. In 2010 Lehigh’s players were unable to stop Kansas from scoring 55% of the shots they attempted. In 2012 Lehigh limited Duke to scoring 41% of the shots they attempted. Duke is famed for their 3-point shooting. They have on overall 3-point shooting percentage of 37% this season, but Lehigh only allowed 23% of their attempts at 3-point shots go through this game.

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