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10 Reasons to Root for Holy Cross

I know it can be hard sometimes to root for the Patriot League representatives in the postseason, being a Lehigh fan. But today is the time. In one of the last games of the first round, Holy Cross will playing Southern Illinois on CBS in your local area (or, if you can't do that, you can sign up for March Madness On Demand for free) at about 9:45 EST tonight.

I'm so thrilled with the Crusaders that I'm going to attempt to write an in-running blog of the whole affair as it's going on. I'm not sure if I would have done it anyway, but after hearing that famous Holy Cross alumnus Bill Simmons would be dropping out of his ESPN in-running first-round diary just before the best game of the first round at 9:45PM, I felt like somebody needed to pick up the slack, and that person ought to be me. Bill, just think of me as your CLOSER.

For you Lehigh fans (and other non-Holy-Cross fans out there), here's 10 really good reasons to root for Holy Cross over Southern Illinois tonight.

1. What's good for Holy Cross today is good for the Patriot League in the future. Just imagine what THREE first-round upsets in THREE years will do for our national visibility. You won't hear much about the MAAC or Mid-Horizon from Dick Vitale; you'll be hearing about the CAA and Patriot.

2. Crayola has a surplus of purple body paint - one more game will allow them to dump that product. Anything good for the local economy is OK with me.

3. Everyone loves mid-majors, and whomever wins this battle will be a mid-major that has a chance to make the Sweet 16. Seriously, do you really think Illinois or Virginia Tech is unbeatable?

4. A good game is the only way to knock Kentucky/Villanova off your TV screen. If you are not fond of Tubby Smith auditioning for a Rolaids commercial for two hours, I'd suggest roting for the Cross to make things interesting. (Maybe Tubby could join classic footage of Rollie Massemino, but not on my time, please!)

5. Famous Holy Cross alumni: the aforementioned Bill Simmons, beltway pundit Chris Matthews, NBA hall-of-famers and Celtic Legends Tommy Heinsohn and and Bob Cousy, Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey, Jr., and supreme court justice Clarence Thomas. Famous Southern Illinois alumni: Jim Belushi and Walt "The Salukis doing Kabuki as they slice and dice... to the hoop!" Frazier. No contest.

6. This is your last chance to see senior guards Torey Thomas and Keith Simmons out-shoot and out-hustle another opponent. We'll all be glad to not have to face them ever again, but these hard-working kids richly deserve an NCAA tournament, and I think they're going to perform really well in this spot.

7. Those Southern Illinois guards turn over the ball, and Thomas and Simmons get a whole lot of steals. As anyone who watched the VCU game can attest, good guards can carry you to a win, and there's a real chance of this happening here.

8. We need some shots of Ralph Willard in these CBS NCAA montages. Not only is he a great coach, I can't think of any coach that went with such suddenness from "Just For Men" to a cool-looking head of grey hair - and pulled it off. Saluki coach Chris Lowery just can't match Willard in the style department - you'll see that today.

9. Holy Cross actually can have a size advantage underneath if Willard plays his cards right. In 6"10, 270 lb Tim Clifford can get everyone out of his area, we could have a surprising presence underneath.

10. What can Patriot League basketball be? It can be Holy Cross and Bucknell the past three years -- hopefully all with first-round wins and gunning for their first-ever Sweet 16 bid. Can you picture next year's Holy Cross/Lehigh game on ESPN? The way it becomes closer to reality is with a Crusader win tonight.


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