NCAA Tournament Predictions: Oregon vs. Iona

Dillon Brooks_552147

Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, center, lets out a yell after the Ducks defeated UCLA Bruins 89-87 in an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

3. Oregon (29-5, 16-2/Pac-12)–Under Dana Altman, the Ducks have become one of the nation’s best programs, and this team rolled through a difficult Pac-12 schedule at 16-2. Junior forward Dillon Brooks was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, and the sharp-shooting guard leads Oregon at 16.3 points per game. 6-4 sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey can fill it up, too, as can 6-2 guard Dylan Ennis.

This team’s Final Four chances took a serious blow when 6-10 forward Chris Boucher tore his ACL in a Pac-12 quarterfinal win over California. He’s lost for the season.

Boucher was very important cog for this team, averaging 11.8 points and  6.1 boards per game. He also put up 2.5 blocks per game, and could stretch the floor with the 3-ball.

14. Iona (22-12, 12-8/MAAC)–The Gaels are back in the field for the second straight year at the expense of top-seeded Monmouth, which at 27-6 and 18-2 in the league, was the class of the conference this season. This team has some nice scorers, including 6-8 senior forward Jordan Washington (17.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg), 6-2 senior guard Jon Severe (11.3 ppg) and former UConn guard Sam Cassell Jr. (son of the former NBA star).

They play at a breakneck pace under head coach Tim Cluess and are tough to prepare for, but unfortunately for the Gaels, so does Oregon. This isn’t a great matchup for this team.

PREDICTION: Oregon advances past Iona, and we’ve got them beating Rhode Island to reach the Sweet 16. From there, things get tougher, as a potential matchup with Louisville would be difficult without Boucher. We don’t think the Ducks will make it past the second weekend, which is a shame, because this team had a real Final Four shot before their shotblocking big went down.

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