Though it wasn’t easy by any means, the St. Joseph’s Hawks came out of the first round with a huge win over Cincinnati. The Bearcats had a 1 point lead after a dunk that resulted from a blocked shot on a St. Joseph’s three pointer. On the other end, with less than 10 seconds to go, Isiah Miles pulled up and hit a dagger three pointer that gave the Hawks a two point lead. It would end up being the game winner. On the other end, Octavius Ellis dunked the ball in while time expired, but after official review, the ball was still in his hands. The Hawks came away with a 78-76 victory and will advance to the Round of 32.
So who’s next? The #1 seeded Oregon Ducks await the Hawks after they snatched a 92-51 win over Holy Cross. The Ducks have not gotten a lot of credit this postseason despite winning the Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament titles. Many thought that Michigan State should’ve gotten the #1 seed, but we all saw what happened to the Spartans on Friday afternoon. Underrated or not, Oregon is a very talented team that will be tough for St. Joseph’s to beat. The Ducks absolutely crushed the Crusaders thanks to 34-61 (55.7%) shooting and a team-high 20 points from Chris Boucher. This should be a great game between two upward trending teams in Spokane.
Oregon is one of those teams that does a little bit of everything. The Ducks shoot the ball well from the floor with a 52.6% effective field goal percentage according to Kenpom. They have a dynamic guard in Tyler Dorsey who’s great both driving the ball and shooting it from the perimeter. But perhaps Oregon’s most dangerous when it gives the ball to its forwards. Sophomore Dillon Brooks has taken this team over and has been the go-to-guy all season long. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. His ability to play inside out is key for the Ducks. In fact, the Ducks have 4 players taller than 6’6″ that shoot better than 32% from three point range. You better watch out for the Ducks from the perimeter.
Luckily for the Hawks, they play great perimeter defense. St. Joseph’s is holding its opponents to just 31.2% from three point range this season and will hope that continues against Oregon. The Ducks shot just 6-20 (30.0%) from three against Holy Cross, but every player on the floor is a threat from deep. If the Ducks take away the three point shot and force the Ducks to find offense elsewhere, they’ll be in good shape. If the Hawks don’t play tight perimeter defense and Oregon gets easy looks from outside, the Ducks could make St. Joseph’s pay both inside and out.
This game should have a pretty nice pace to it, as neither team turns the ball over very often. St. Joseph’s is 4th in the country with just a 14.2% turnover percentage; Oregon ranks 46th at 16.1%. Expect both teams to try to find their grooves early and work through their best players. Speaking of which, we’re going to have a very interesting matchup between high-level forwards.
Oregon’s Dillon Brooks and A-10 Player of the Year DeAndre’ Bembry will likely go head-to-head on Sunday. Both play with a similar style. Brooks and Bembry like to drive the ball and create shots inside the arc, but both also have the ability to step outside and knock down the three pointer. Whichever team’s stud has a more impressive game is the team that’s going to have the better chance of winning. Brooks had 11 points against Holy Cross; Bembry had 23 against Cincinnati. Also, watch out for Isaiah Miles against Tyler Dorsey. Both guards play explosive basketball and can score at a high rate. This should be a great matchup on Sunday.