As Selection Sunday started to wind down most of the conversation among college basketball fans were the questionable teams that received a bid. Although nobody questioned their bid, Oregon’s acquisition of a number 1 seed was under fire. Most fans don’t believe they truly deserve it, and think as a soft number 1, Oregon could be the first number 1 seed ever to lose in the first round. Every year it doesn’t happen the chances of it actually happening only increase and an underwhelming top seed may be just what the record books need to change this year.
First a look at the brave challenger. Holy Cross won their play in game against Southern but their resume is a bit lacking for a team in any sort of post season basketball. Finishing ninth in the regular season in the Patriot Conference, they beat three of the top four teams in the conference on their way to a tournament title and an invitation to The Big Dance. While their 10-19 record before the conference tournament is quite pitiful, maybe their tenacity when faced with single elimination is what could make them a threat. With a talented freshman and two upperclassmen leading the team with double digit points a game, their depth and size is not overly impressive, but any team can get hot on any day. A notable statistic for a team that did so poorly in the regular season is that they only average eleven turnovers a game. During the conference tournament they had three games with less than ten turnovers. While their chances are slim to none to win this game, if they can limit turnovers any team can get hot any day of the week and shock the world. However, as soft a one seed as this Oregon team may be, they are still a one seed and at the end of the day history always sides with them.
On that note let’s take a look at the heavily criticized top seed Oregon. Securing the PAC-12 conference championship by 31 points over fellow tournament 3 seed Utah, the Ducks got their second championship in 4 years and quietly boasted one of the better records in Power 5 conference basketball. Led by senior Elgin Cook, the athletic and high scoring Ducks are going to be too much for the Crusaders to handle. They have won their last eight games and come in looking to prove the doubters wrong despite being atop the West region. The Ducks will naturally be a matchup nightmare for Holy Cross. They are long and athletic with wings that can rebound over the bigs of the Crusaders, but also beat their guards on the dribble. Offensively sound shooting 47% from the field on the year, Oregon will have to have the worst game of their season to make history in the first round. While they are not elite defensively, they are sound enough to suppress a Crusader offense that only averages 65 points a contest.
As much as the entire country wants to see a number one seed go down, this sadly will not be it. Holy Cross might have the least impressive resume of any team in history to make the tournament and will be overwhelmed by a Power 5 conference champion that is also out to prove something. This one is gonna get ugly and might even see the Oregon managers and ball boys getting some minutes out there. I’m no betting man, but I’m gonna say Oregon will have more points with 5 minutes left in the game than their will be people in the stands.
Prediction: Oregon 82 Holy Cross 48
Peter Bedrosian, Virginia Tech ‘17
Go Hokies (Future 2016 NIT champs)