Holy Cross defeated Southern 59-55 in the First Four on Wednesday night. Here are three takeaways.
1. This was the first NCAA Tournament win since 1953 for Holy Cross
The First Four has its flaws, but these kind of outcomes are cool. It totally stinks for Southern and Fairleigh Dickinson that they, as No. 16 seeds, didn’t get to experience the tournament in earnest this year. But the other side of it is Holy Cross earning a win in the dance and achieving something that hadn’t been done since before many of the parents of these Holy Cross players had been born.
It’s just crazy, though. After not winning a road game in the Patriot League all regular season, Holy Cross has now won five straight games away from home to continue its postseason run. This is why March can be so fun.
2. Robert Champion is aptly named
The Holy Cross junior (11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds per game) came off the bench and led all scorers with 19. He was the catalyst, and just the kind of regular-looking guy who gets to ball out and show off to America.
Also, what is it about the sub-.500 teams who keep winning in the First Four? So, since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 65 teams in 2002, there have been nine teams who’ve made the field with a sub-.500 record. Holy Cross’ win on Wednesday raised those mediocre teams to 7-2.
What’s crazier is that Holy Cross is only 15-19 now. So, yeah, this team will need to reach the national title game to finish this season above .500.
3. Now comes Oregon
So the Cross will have to fly to Washington to play against No. 1 Oregon on Friday night, in Spokane, with a 4:27 local tip time. Why this couldn’t be the last tip of the night, especially with Oregon’s team already living on Pacific time, I don’t know.
Oregon’s going to have its way with Bill Carmody’s Princeton offense if HCU shoots 45 percent, as it did against Southern. Also, Oregon will have the size to dominate down low. The teams are very different in size, skill and style. It will be a contrast, to say the least, and Holy Cross will attempt to slow the game down as much as it possibly can.