We’re down to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, and what a first weekend it was. We had monumental upsets, half-court buzzer-beaters, crazy collapses, Cinderella stories and redemption runs (who had Syracuse vs. Gonzaga in the Midwest?)
We can’t wait until it starts up again on Thursday, but until then, we’re previewing all of the games in the regional semifinals:
First round: Def. 16 Holy Cross, 91-52
Second round: Def. 8 Saint Joseph’s, 69-64
The Ducks were disrespected a little bit entering the NCAA’s, as many people (including us) wondered if they were actually that good. We’ll find out Thursday.
Oregon hammered 16th-seed Holy Cross, 91-52, in Round 1 before barely escaping a challenge from a game Saint Joseph’s squad. St. Joe’s led late in that game, and Oregon benefitted from a few calls that could have gone the other way. Give this team credit, though–it made big shots down the stretch and deserved to walk away with the win.
6-6 sophomore forward Dillon Brooks has been big for the Ducks, scoring a game-high 25 points in the win over the Hawks. He hit four three-pointers, indlucluding a big one with 1:22 left to give Oregon the lead for good.
6-6 senior Elgin Cook added 18 points in the win over St. Joe’s. He came up big as well, hitting clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
First round: Def. UNC-WIlmington, 93-85
Second round: Def. Yale, 71-64
The Blue Devils did just enough to advance to Anaheim, getting past an upset-minded UNC-Wilmington squad in round one and withstanding a second-half onslaught from Yale to escape from Providence with a win, 71-64. Duke was hitting everything in the first half against the Bulldogs, maybe playing as well as they had all year. They couldn’t carry the momentum over to the second half, but it had to feel good for Grayson Allen, who poured in 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting, to get that hot.
Freshman Brandon Ingram is another major reason why the Devils are still dancing; he scored 25 in the win over Yale, and came up huge down the stretch, often initiating offense in half-court sets. He also put up 20 and grabbed nine rebounds in the 93-85 win over UNCW.
PREDICTION: Oregon 83, Duke 79. This Duke team, as Coach K said in his postgame press conference after the Yale game, is like a house on a cliff. “And we hope it doesn’t rain,” he said. They just keep surviving, even though they fall victim to bad spells at times. There is a lot of talent on the floor, and it’s all going to come down to whether or not they make shots. But with Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook balling out, we don’t think they’ll make quite enough to get past the Ducks.