Introducing Cinderella: Meet the Holy Cross Crusaders

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
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Conference: Patriot League

Coach: Bill Carmody

Record: 14-19

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 269
RPI: 264
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: The Crusaders are five games under .500 and were 5-13 in the Patriot League before making their improbable run through the league tournament. A 16-seed is likely in their future and they’re probably headed for Dayton.

Names you need to know: Robert Champion (11.7 points), Malachi Alexander (11.5 points) and Karl Charles (11.1 points) are the Crusaders’ top scorers this season with Alexander going off for 26 in their title game win over Lehigh. Alexander and Champion both shoot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc.

Stats you need to know: Whatever stats you look at for the Crusaders this season, they are probably going to be pretty ugly. They ranked outside the top-300 in offensive efficiency and outside the top-200 on defense. What Holy Cross does do well is share the basketball as it’s one of the top assist teams in the country.

Big wins, bad losses: Any wins, let alone big wins, were hard to come by for the Crusaders this season, but they did best Harvard in November. They also suffered losses to Quinnipiac, Lafayette, Loyola and American.

How’d they get here?: After not winning a conference game on the road all season, Holy Cross somehow caught lightning in a bottle for four rounds. In the first, they defeated Loyola, 72-67, then beat top-seeded Bucknell (77-72, 2OT), followed by Army (60-38) and No. 2 seed Lehigh, 59-56, all on the road, to earn their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007.

Outlook: The chances of the magic continuing for Holy Cross seem slim, but given the season the Crusaders have had, it’s simply shocking to see them in the field.

How do I know you?: For 13 years, Bill Carmody endeavored to get Northwestern to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. He wasn’t able to accomplish the feat and was fired by the Wildcats in 2013. Fast forward, and he’s now in the Big Dance while Northwestern still has never received a berth. For Carmody to get this Holy Cross team the way he did is truly astounding.