Shoppers not the only busy ones

Finals are over, and before they break for the holidays, everybody in the league is looking to sneak in a game this week. Except, that is, for Army, which lost at Notre Dame Sunday.

Four games make tonight the busiest schedule of the week. Topping the list, struggling Lehigh is in Cincinnati to take on a Xavier team that is struggling in its own right.

These are not Thad Matta's Musketeers. After going 26-11 last season, making it to the NCAA Regional Final, Xavier has a new coach (former Matta assistant Sean Miller), an almost new roster with just one senior (of the nine players in Sean Miller’s rotation, six are sophomores or freshmen, including four of the team’s top six scorers) and a 2-4 record.

Before Lehigh fans get thinking upset here, it is worth noting that Xavier’s four losses have come at the hands of Miami (Oh), Creighton, Tennessee and Mississippi St, the last three. by a combined total of 10 points.

The last 12 minutes against Mississippi St. Saturday was the Muskies' best stretch of the season, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which says Miller hopes to build on that against Lehigh.

The Enquirer's Dustin Dow says team defense is permanently at the top of Miller's list "as Xavier hosts Lehigh (4-5) at 7:30 p.m. today at Cintas Center, Miller has some other concerns as well."

Also in the Enquirer, Dow explains the reality of this game in no uncertain terms:
Up next are three home games, against Lehigh (Tuesday), Indianapolis Purdue-Fort Wayne (Dec. 28) and Marshall (Dec. 30). Those so-called "guarantee games" - the opponents receive a paycheck in return for Xavier getting a very winnable home game - present Xavier an opportunity to be better than .500 going into the Iowa State game Jan. 3, the last game before the Atlantic 10 season.
Elsewhere tonight:
Holy Cross at Brown: The Crusaders are boasting a lofty 52 RPI ranking this week. It's the league's best RPI, though American is the lone Patriot team receiving a vote in this week's AP Poll (Thanks you John!)

We're not sure how much stock the RPI deserves, though the guys who hand out the dance invites seen enamored by it. Here's a perfect example of the RPI's flaws:

This week, 184 Robert Morris, a 1-6 team, is ranked one spot ahead of 185 Bucknell, a team with a winning record (5-4, D-3s do not count) that includes a 15-point whooping put on Robert Morris.

Coach Ralph has posted a little more explanation about his recent remarks regarding scheduling and the RPI.

Brown, 4-4, by the way, has not played since a Dec. 8 win over New Hampshire.

This is Brown's first game against a Patriot League team this season. The Ivies currently lead the season series 9-4 with 10 games to play. If the Ivies go on to win the season series, it would end the Patriot League's two-year run. The Ivies last took the series in 2001-02, when they won 14 of 22 against a league with very limited scholarship players.

The past two seasons, as scholarship talent began to fill the Patriot rosters (except at Lafayette, which we will get to in a moment), the Patriot's seemed to be gaining an advantage, holding a 12-10 edge in 2002-03 and winning the series last season 14-6.

As for Lafayette and scholarships, our pal Corky Blake at the Express-Times had a nice piece on Lafayette's new president and why this might not be the guy who makes scholarships his legacy:
Nowhere in his lengthy resume does it suggest (Daniel)Weiss is a sports nut who will arrive on College Hill and make athletic scholarships Priority No. 1.

According to Lafayette's press release, Weiss is a leading authority on the art of medieval Europe in the Age of Crusades.

Attention Patriot League fans: This has nothing to do with paintings of the Holy Cross Crusaders.
Two other games on tap: Loyola Marymount visits Colgate and Navy travels to Emmittsburg, Md. to meet Mount St. Mary's.

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