#3 Oregon vs #14 Iona
29-5, PAC-12 16-2
Player to Watch: Dillon Brooks
Dillon Brooks is an All-American who has carried the Ducks to multiple big finishes in the PAC-12. He averages 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists this season but his value is much more than the stats. Brooks is a big time shot maker who can get a basket whenever the Ducks are in a drought.
X Factor: Replacing Chris Boucher
The Ducks just lost leading shot blocker and deadly shooter Chris Boucher to a season ending surgery on Friday night. The success of Dana Altman’s team will be hinging on whether they can overcome that injury and protect the rim.
22-12, MAAC 12-8
Player to Watch: Jordan Washington
The 6’8” senior big man averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds for the Gaels this season. He is key because he is Iona’s best player but also struggled to stay on the floor without fouling. Washington is a fantastic post scorer and displayed his whole repertoire during the MAAC Tournament. If Washington can stay on the court and avoid foul trouble he could be a load for the Ducks to defend.
X Factor: Deep Shooting
The three pointer has always been an equalizer for teams looking to pull of an upset. Iona is 16th in the country in 3 point shooting percentage. The Gaels need to get hot and knock down some outside shots in order to hang with Oregon. If any team can get hot it is Iona with their top ranked outside shooting.
Match-Up to Watch: Jordan vs. Jordan
I am obviously talking about Jordan Washington and Jordan Bell down on the block. Bell needs to step up to help fill the hole that opened with Chris Boucher’s injury. Jordan Washington has carried his team all year and will need to continue to give the Gaels a shot at an upset. Something has to give in this matchup. May the best Jordan win!
Key Stat: Three Point Scoring
Both teams have very talented shooters and can get hot from deep. Three point shooting will swing the game. If Iona gets hot they will put pressure on Oregon’s offense and Dillon Brooks. If Oregon gets hot they will not have to worry as much about missing Chris Boucher.
Prediction: Oregon 82, Iona 76
As much as Oregon is bleeding with Chris Boucher’s injury they still have a fully healthy Dillon Brooks. Brooks cannot be stopped and can get a bucket in any key spots that the Ducks are in. Iona will knock down some threes but ultimately full short due to the number of talented pieces Oregon can throw at them.
Photo Source: Atzen Zoo