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Lehigh And "A Googolpex-To-One"

(Photo Credit: Associated Press c/o The Wall Street Journal)

Lehigh athletic teams have certainly seen long odds before, but the USA Today's article on the NCAA tournament has to be a first.

USA TODAY's resident sports analyst Danny Sheridan has released his odds for winning the NCAA men's national championship and -- no surprise here -- Kansas and Kentucky lead the way.

But there is some good value on the board, such as Villanova (20-1), Michigan State (30-1) and New Mexico (60-1). The Lobos were unbeaten in six games against Top 25 opponents this year.

As for the rest, the list is below. Just don't put too much on Lehigh (10 googolplex-1).

The bright side?  All the members of the Lehigh basketball team actually could tell you what a googolplex is. (Who'd like to take the wager that nobody on the final four contending teams could even pronounce it correctly, let alone know what it means?)  Still - and this is not a surprise - America is basically putting Lehigh's odds somewhere between "no way" and somewhere in the the googolplex. (more)

It's not hard to find the evidence - or bulletin board material, as if any is needed - this week in the press.

Prediction Machine Sez Kansas Most Likely National Champs is a Web site that plays each game 50,000 times before it's actually played. For the NCAA tournament, it is not just providing predictions for each of the first-round games but is playing through the entire field.  For the 2010 NCAA tournament, likes Kansas to win the title, yet it happens just 15.7 percent of the time -- leaving the field pretty open for teams such as Syracuse (10.6), Baylor (10.4), Duke (10.2), Ohio State (9.9) and Kentucky (8.0).
Casual Hoya: 5'10 Center for Lehigh?

Lehigh vs. Lafayette is an engineer's version of Harvard vs. Yale. Also, I visited Lehigh once and was surprised by the lack of height displayed by their male population. At 5'10" I'm pretty sure I'd play center for their basketball team. With that in mind, it's remarkable they made it to the NCAA Tournament.

(Note to Casual Hoya: I'm 6'3, pretty sure I didn't shrink since I was an undergrad, and I was not the smallest guy on campus by any stretch. (Though F Dozie Mbonu was listed at 6'7, and he was at best an inch taller than me. True story.)

The Dagger: Do's and Don'ts For Filling Out Your NCAA Brackets.

DON'T: Take a No. 15 or 16 seed to win its first-round game, no matter how good a feeling you have about Lehigh.  Those plucky No. 16 seeds are a solid 0-for-100 against No. 1s since the bracket expanded to its current format, while only four No. 15s have won a game during that same span.

Sign On San Diego: All Bets On (Except for Lehigh) In Tourney

“We might be in a statistics class that day, but there’s no way they’re going to be focused,” Minto says. “I tell them, ‘Your eyes need to be glued to the TV.’ From a sports-business perspective, it’s one of the biggest days of the year. There might not be a better case study for our students.”

And it’s far less cruel than the ritual human sacrifice to appease the gods of spring. The only sacrificial lamb now is 16th-seeded Lehigh against No. 1 Kansas.

Gee, thanks!

When you focus in on the local press in Kansas, it gets even better:

Cool, confident, casual, cocky — any of those words describe Kansas at times, though at some point in the NCAA Tournament the Jayhawks better bring more than their 'C' game.

Which they'll presumably be able to do against Lehigh? Next...

A potential second-round matchup against the Missouri Valley champion awaits KU.

Kinda takes take you back to when the tourney was limited to conference champs. When the Valley included teams such as Cincinnati and standouts such as Oscar.

Of course, we could also see Bill Self against Lon Kruger in the second round, the best connection Illinois has to this year's tourney.

That's it: look ahead to Saturday. Nice. Next...
A Sweet 16 rematch from last year between Kansas and Michigan State caught my eye when studying the loaded Midwest Region.

Tom Izzo is one of the absolute best, a coach Bill Self respects greatly from his days in the Big Ten.

OK, so... already Kansas is in the Sweet 16?  Last I checked, they has TWO games to play.  Next...

Those who don't follow basketball, but love watching the tournament and root for teams with certain color or mascots, may fall in love with Tweety.

Apparently the lack of a cartoon character influenced Lehigh to change its nickname to Mountain Hawks from Engineers in the mid-1990s.

This would be, 'Oh little school of Bethlehem," with an enrollment of just 4,000 on the Pennsylvania campus.
Tweety???? Dude - do a Google search.  It's Clutch Hawk.  Clutch Hawk.  Clutch Hawk.  The students has a contest to name him last year, and he's Clutch Hawk.   And thanks for calling us "little school of Bethlehem, too.  Next...

If the NCAA field is expanded, how long will it take to back off on awarding automatic bids to all regular-season champs and conference tournament champs?

With 96, 128 or whatever number expansion brings, does anyone want two qualifiers from the SWAC or MEAC?

Oh, the horror of it all.  Kansas might, after all, need to play the Patriot League champion and win.  Something they couldn't do in 2005.  Next...

As the favorite, Kansas went off at 9-4 to win it all, and 4-5 to win the Midwest Region. Also, Cole Aldrich was the early favorite to be named most outstanding player, going off at 4-1.

Not sure any of that influences those brackets that are due in today. How many of you have KU meeting K-State in the national semifinals?

OK, hold on a sec. Now Kansas hasn't just beaten Lehigh, Northern Iowa, and all the teams in the brutal Midwest bracket... but now they're facing Kansas State in the semifinals??????

(That's something that's a Googolplex to one against.  Bank on THAT.)

Oh, and it gets even better.  Check out the following piece from the Topeka Journal that won't be winning a Pulitzer any time soon, saying (ugg) that Lehigh 'is just happy to be here'

For practical purposes, Lehigh already has won its tournament.

The 16th-seeded Mountain Hawks (22-10) beat their biggest rival Friday in the Patriot League tournament, thereby punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, where they face overall No. 1 seed Kansas at 8:40 p.m. Thursday in Oklahoma City.

No. 16 seeds aren't expected to win NCAA Tournament games. They have lost every single one. So the real victory is getting there.

So much so that Lehigh fans rushed the floor when the Mountain Hawks won the conference title.
O-kay.  Lehigh is happy they won their conference tournament.  They rush the floor.  So that means that Lehigh's going to just roll over in front of Kansas - awed, no doubt, by the fact that Kansas fans couldn't give a flying crap, I guess, about their conference tournament - and lose by 40 points.

I really, really hope that's the attitude the Jayhawks bring to Thursday night's game - their "C" game, with thoughts in their heads that the sacrificial lamb Lehigh is just happy to be there, looking forward to the Kansas/K-State final in three weeks time (which, I have to point out, would without a doubt be the least-watched NCAA final in history).

And don't get me started on the comments on message boards.

Look, I know all about school pride, and I know a little something about partial local media.  I understand the chest-thumping and thought that Kansas could win the national championship.  (Especially since evolution apparently hasn't reached the state's borders yet, if it indeed ever will.)

But what do people think such talk are going to do to Lehigh, really?  Do they really think Lehigh's going to just roll over and give up before the final tip?  That all this chest thumping will somehow rattle Lehigh off their game?  That it will make them shoot worse?  Play bad defense?  The best gift you could give an opposing team - and one with long odds - is abject disrespect.  I mean, looking ahead to a Kansas/K-State Semifinal?  Words haven't been invented to describe that level of disrespect.

I've found Lehigh plays better when they're focused and emotionally charged.  I don't know if Lehigh will win the basketball game - and indeed the odds are extremely long - but I do have a feeling - just a feeling - that Kansas fans will not soon forget Lehigh when all is said and done.


Anonymous said…
So, the Earth has a better chance of being completely obliterated and civilization collapsing than Lehigh winning the NCAA tournament? I like it!

- P4L

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