Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCEastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCSouthregion and @RTCWestregion. Kenny Ocker is covering the Spokane pods of the South and West regionals this week.
Three Key Takeaways.
- Oregon didn’t embarrass itself, and nobody got hurt: All the Ducks needed to do was win comfortably, have nobody get hurt and try not to tax their key players before Sunday’s second-round game against the winner of Saint Joseph’s and Cincinnati. Mission accomplished. There’s not much else that can be taken from a game against what is Oregon’s second-worst opponent of the season, according to KenPom.com.
- Chris Boucher is a unicorn: The Ducks’ 6’11” stringbean of a center does three things, and he does them all phenomenally. He blocks a ton of shots. He takes a lot of threes. And he finishes off spectacular alley-oops. The reigning junior college player of the year has transformed Oregon into a difficult team to attack offensively and just as much of a challenge to defend. He’s freakishly long and quick and can jump as high as anyone in college basketball. His combination of skills was on full display Friday, as Holy Cross had nobody capable of containing him. Boucher’s final stat line: 20 points on 8-12 shooting, one three-pointer, five rebounds.
- Bill Carmody finally got a team in purple into the NCAA Tournament: After a long, sometimes-cursed tenure at Northwestern that never saw the Wildcats experience March Madness, Carmody coaxed a struggling Holy Cross team to four consecutive road wins in the Patriot League Tournament, then won a First Four nail-biter against Southern to earn a red-eye flight to Spokane. There’s only one Crusader senior who plays major minutes — swingman/glue guy Eric Green — whose spot in the starting lineup will likely be filled next year by supersub Robert Champion. Once the Crusaders switched to their 1-3-1 zone defense, they saw significantly better results. It wouldn’t be totally surprising to see them back in the bracket next year.