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Holy Cross & Oregon Set for NCAA Tournament Showdown

Friday, March 18, 2016

 

The Holy Cross Crusaders and Oregon Ducks will tip off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament tonight in Spokane Washington. Game time is set for 7:27 p.m. eastern time and can be seen on TruTv.

The Oregon Ducks are the number one seed in the West Region after going 28-6 overall and 14-4 in conference play in the regular season and then beating Utah 88-57 in the Pac-12 Championship. 

"The team is coming off a pretty good series in our conference tournament and so now we're anxious to get the NCAA Tournament started. Our guys have played awfully well down the stretch and we're sure hoping to continue that," said Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman. 

The Holy Cross Crusaders are coming off a First Four win over Southern on Wednesday and have won five straight games going back to the Patriot League Tournament. In that tournament, the Crusaders entered as a 9 seed and won 4 straight road games, including upset wins over the top two seeds. 

"We knew we were capable, what we were capable of, and we stuck together through all the tough times and tough losses, we were able to stick together and things came together for us. And we were able to get some victories in our tournament and then momentum just took us on from there," said Holy Cross' Anthony Thompson in a Thursday press conference.

This is the first ever meeting between the two teams. 

Players to Watch for Holy Cross 

For Holy Cross it has been about Malachi Alexander and Robert Champion, who comes off the bench. 

Alexander has averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, including a 26 point performance in the Patriot League Championship. 

Robert Champion plays significant minutes off the bench for Holy Cross and averages 11.7 points and 5 rebounds per game for the Crusaders. 

Keys to a Holy Cross Upset 

For Holy Cross, they are going to need big games out of Malachi Alexander, Robert Champion and Karl Charles in order to keep up with Oregon's scoring. Oregon averages almost 80 points per game while holding opponents to 69 points per game. 

Expect to see a lot of three-pointers and a stingy 1-3-1 defense from Holy Cross in this game in hopes to slow the tempo. 

"Well, just to break that down a little bit, the 1-3-1, the three-point shots, everyone takes a lot of three-point shots these days. And you're being left behind if you don't, I think. That's one.

Two, we're playing a 1-3-1, and I bet you if you took last night's game, and you went through with that stop watch and see who took more time, on each possession, all right. I'll bet it would have been Southern. And it might be true of a few other teams that we played in the last couple weeks.

So, you want me to make it easy on them? We'll play them man-to-man and they'll score right on us. This is the way we figure we can win, you try to win the game, that's the objective, and we tried a lot of different defenses this year, man-to-man, different kinds of zones, matchups, and this seems to be the most effective. So, I don't know if it makes you more likely or more able to beat a higher seed like a No. 1 seed, but it's the way we play and it helps us, we think it helps us have a better chance of winning," Holy Cross Head Coach Carmody said. 

Players to Watch for Oregon 

Oregon is led by Dillon Brooks who averages 16.8 points per game  and is shooting 47% from the field. 

Brooks is followed by Elgin Cook who averages 14.5 points per game and is shooting 46 % from the field while Tyler Dorsey averages 14 points per game and is shooting 43% from three-point land. 

Keys for Oregon 

For the Ducks to get the win, solving Holy Cross' 1-3-1 zone is going to be key. The Crusaders have stifled opponents in their last five games playing that defense. 

"Their 1-3-1 zone has given some people some problems, so we'll have to execute against that. And they shoot a lot of threes, so we're going to have to extend our defense and push out a little bit," said Coach Altman. 

Game Time

In the history of the NCAA Tournament, a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed. Holy Cross is coming in red hot and is one of the early great stories of March Madness. 

Oregon is also coming in hot and is looking to make a deep run in the tournament. 

The winner of the game will face either St. Joseph's or Cincinnati in the second round. 

 

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