Southern Illinois Salukis (27-6) vs. Holy Cross Crusaders (25-8)
When: Friday, 9:40 p.m.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS
1. Watch Yo Mouth. Among many famous alums - Dennis Franz, Shawn Colvin, Bob Odenkirk, John Belushi (though it's up for debate whether or not he actually attended a class) - without a doubt the coolest Saluki grad is Richard Roundtree, best known as SHAFT. In addition to being the private dick who gets all the chicks, Roundtree played football for SIU and was treated for breast cancer in 1993. I didn't mistype there.
2. These Guys Are Unusually Smart. SIU is not necessarily known for its academic excellence - it's more known for its parties - but the basketball team is wiping the floor with the student body, at least in the classroom. Star guard Jamaal Tatum is an honors student like fellow starters Matt Shaw and Bryan Mullins. Tatum's father is a professor, but not as impressive a professor as the father of reserve center Kobby Acquah, whose dad is the head of the physics department at the University of the Cape Coast in Ghana.
3. The President Should Have Been Governor. SIU's president is Glenn Poshard, who lost a brutal and close gubernatorial race with former Illinois Gov. George Ryan in 1998. Had he won, the state of Illinois would have been much better off; Ryan proved to be an impressively corrupt public official and was ultimately convicted of 18 federal public corruption convictions and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail (he's somehow avoiding prison so far on appeal, because he's white and old). — Will Leitch
HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS
1. Before Chief Wahoo, there was Chief Sockalexis. Roughly 12 years before Jim Thorpe became the most famous Native American athlete ever, a Penobscot Indian named Louis Sockalexis was starring in football, track and baseball at College of the Holy Cross. After batting over .400 in college, Sockalexis defied racism and became the first Native American to play in the major leagues. Ironically, he played for the Cleveland Spiders, who renamed themselves the Indians in 1915.
2. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Coach Wooden. Woodrow Wilson lookalike William J. Casey coached the 1920 Holy Cross basketball to an undefeated record. Back then the season was a grueling two games, and the Crusaders won both. In 1947, Holy Cross won its only NCAA championship with the legendary Bob Cousy. The Cooze only contributed two points, both from the line, in the 58-47 win over the Oklahoma Sooners.
3. Holy Cross loves Simmons. Keith Simmons, that is. He and backcourt buddy Torey Thomas bring senior leadership to a team that went 13-1 in the Patriot League this year. A low-scoring loss at Bucknell was the only blemish on their conference record and was one of only two games that Thomas fouled out of during the season. Despite playing an average of 35.5 minutes per game, top scorer Simmons has not fouled out once in the '06-'07 season. — Eric Angevine