The Oregon Ducks lived up to their No. 1 seed on Friday night, taking down the No. 16 Holy Cross Crusaders, 91-52, at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
SportsCenter noted the big victory:
On to the next round! 1-seed Oregon cruises past 16-seed Holy Cross, 91-52. pic.twitter.com/V7VIvtlHgx— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 19, 2016
While there have been plenty of upsets and close games in the tournament, this one was never in doubt, and moved No. 16 seeds to 0-128 all-time against top seeds.
Aaron J. Fentress of Comcast Sportsnet Northwest predicted the result early on:
Oregon is far bigger and more athletic. HC isn't merely a 16-seed. It's a 16-seed with 19 losses. Ducks should handle this with ease.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) March 19, 2016
Oregon never trailed in the game, at one point leading by as many as 42.
The Ducks (29-6) spread the scoring around and had seven players put the ball in the basket in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Junior Chris Boucher led the Oregon scoring effort with 20 points, while Dwayne Benjamin chipped in 12.
With 5:56 left in the first half and the Ducks leading 33-16, Oregon had made nearly as many baskets (11) as Holy Cross had attempted (14).
It felt like most were dunks, as Boucher and company muscled their way to the rim often.
There wasn't much the overmatched Crusaders could do when 6'10'' Boucher was also stepping out and hitting three-pointers on one end, then swatting a layup away on the other, preserving a 36-19 lead.
By halftime it was 43-25 and all but over.
Oregon put an end to any doubt when the second 20 minutes started, scoring nine of the first 11 points and taking a 52-27 lead on a dunk from Elgin Cook that gave him his second double-double of the season, per Oregon Basketball. He finished the game with 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, as well as this monster putback dunk, per Oregon Basketball:
CBS Sports' Seth Davis gave the win to Oregon just a few minutes into the second half:
Oregon. Sharpie.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 19, 2016
Although the Ducks looked impressive, the rest of their conference has not. As ESPN analyst Jay Williams pointed out, Pac-12 teams have struggled to win their first game, which led to a sobering stat:
While Oregon can't worry about what other teams are doing, Williams does have a point. The Ducks had 12 wins against RPI Top 25 teams, and the Utah Utes (whom they beat three times) are the only team that remains in the tournament.
Despite that fact, the Ducks will be one of 32 teams remaining in the tournament heading into the weekend, and even Oregon football head coach Mark Helfrich was out to support the hardwood Ducks, per John Canzano of the Oregonian:
Ran into Oregon Ducks football coach Mark Helfrich in lobby of Spokane hotel. His kids and wife with him, here to support No 1 seed.— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) March 18, 2016
Oregon, which shot 55.7 percent from the field and made 17 of 22 free throws, moves on to the round of 32 to face the winner of the No. 9/No. 8 matchup between the St. Joseph's Hawks and Cincinnati Bearcats. A win would give the Ducks their fourth trip to the Sweet 16 since the 2002 season.
Sportswriter Bill Simmons, a Holy Cross graduate, found a silver lining in the defeat, taking a shot at the Boston College Eagles, who were winless in conference play this season:
Proud of Holy Cross - remember we did WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than BC did.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 19, 2016
Robert Champion led the Crusaders (15-20) with a game-high 22 points, but they failed to earn their first NCAA tournament victory since 1953.
Oregon head coach Dana Altman was pleased his team started the game hot and never let up, per ESPN.com.
"We came out and set the tone early and never really let them get into the game. That's a tribute to the guys for getting themselves ready," Altman said.
Even though Holy Cross was never a threat, Oregon guard Dillon Brooks said he was a little uneasy about the game after he saw other top teams go out in the first round, according to ESPN.com.
"I was kind of scared to be honest," Brooks said. "We have been making a lot of history (at) Oregon, but I didn't want to make that kind of history."
Malachi Alexander, the Crusaders' leading scorer, finished with just 10 points and said the Ducks never made it easy for him, according to ESPN.com.
"They just made us uncomfortable on offense," Alexander said.
It certainly was a comfortable game for the Ducks, but they can't carry that feeling into their second-round game because every matchup from here on out should be a tough one.
Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four.