Welcome to The Dance, Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Matt Norlander

That's right. Not just any kind of hawk — a take-no-prisoners type of bird that makes its home high above the other creatures atop the mountain.

It's a quirky moniker.

I do love the Patriot League and its quirky teams and its quirky annual 4:45 p.m. tip-off on the Friday of Championship Week. That's right. Not 4:30. Not 5 o'clock. 4:45 on the nose. Lehigh took out Lafayette earlier today, and in case you weren't aware, there isn't a football rivalry that's older than this one. But we're talking basketball, and it was the 213th meeting between the two teams; Lehigh still needs another 60 straight wins to even up the series. On their home floor today, though, the Mountain Hawks got the win that means the most in the here and now, a 74-59 decision over the hated men from the other side of the hill (the campuses are 17 miles apart). It was a dominant, non-dramatic win, which wasn't the case when Lehigh made it in 2004 after Jose Olivero hit a jumper with five seconds remaining to defeat American, 59-57. But I'm sure former head coach, Siena's Fran McCaffery, was glad to see the school he brought to the tournament in 1988 get back again.

Player to know: C.J. McCollum leads the team in scoring (18.9), shoots 81 percent from the line, 43 percent from 3-point range and is good for a swipe or two every game. It's very likely Lehigh's going to get outclassed in its game Thursday or Friday, but McCollum is at least the kind of player who could keep hope alive for 20 minutes.

The Vitals:

»Record: 21-10, 10-4 Patriot
»Team colors: brown and white
»We're thinking: a 16-seed
»KenPom ranking: 186
»RPI: 160
»Best win: Quinnipiac (23-9)
»Worst loss: @ Columbia (11-17)
»Notable stat: The Mountain Hawks were the ninth-most effective 3-point shooting team in the country this season, hitting 40.2 percent of their shots from downtown. They also led the Patriot league in scoring (75.2 points per) and
»Most recent tournament history (four total appearances):
-2004 (16-seed): L play-in game to Florida A&M, 72-57.