Southern Illinois - Holy Cross Preview
Southern Illinois (4) Vs. Holy Cross (13)
Friday, 3/16 @ 9:30
Betting Line From Bookmaker: Southern Illinois -7.5
The fourteenth ranked Southern Illinois Salukis (27- 6, 15- 3 MVC) won the regular season but lost their tournament to Creighton 61- 67. The Holy Cross Crusaders (25- 8, 13- 1 Patriot) won the Patriot League and so are on their way to the Big Dance.
The Salukis are a tough-playing, determined troupe that certainly has a chance to get through the weekend. Having senior guard Jamaal Tatum (15.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.4 APG), junior forward Randal Falker (12.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG) and junior forward Matt Shaw (11.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG) play smart, effective offense is essential to Illinois’ success. Sophomore point guard Bryan Mullins (6.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.6 APG) sets up plays ably. This is a physical team that can control the opposition.
Due to a lack of size, the Crusaders have a tough time against the glass. Center Tim Clifford, who stands 6-foot, 10-inches and weighs 270 pounds, is the closest thing Holy Cross has that resembles a banger. Guard Keith Simmons (17.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.9 APG) is Holy Cross’ best shooter, while Torey Thomas (13.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.8 APG ) is the team’s best three-point shooter. This club lacks depth and that means difficulty keeping up with a big name opponent for 40 minutes.
Holy Cross has not been to the Big Dance since 2003, but they are certainly ready to rumble. Southern Illinois must play smart and make every possession count in order to get into the second week of the tournament.