Hawks to keep up with Ducks?

Hawks to keep up with Ducks?

Flying under the radar no longer, the Hawks assume the West Region’s main stage this evening in a 9:40 p.m. ET showdown vs. No. 1 seed Oregon.

According to oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI, the Ducks are 6.5-point favorites in the final tilt of the NCAA tournament’s first weekend. The over/under total sits at 157.

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Several weeks ago, it would’ve been difficult to imagine either school in this spot. Oregon got absurdly hot to claim the Pac-12 regular season and tourney titles, though, while Saint Joseph’s tore through the Atlantic 10.

The Hawks certainly faced stiffer competition in their Big Dance opener. Phil Martelli’s group barely staved off Cincinnati, 78-76, with DeAndre Bembry shouldering the scoring load (23 points). The hair-raising thriller extended Saint Joseph’s winning streak three games.

As for Oregon, it blew 16th-seeded Holy Cross to smithereens two nights ago. The Ducks also carry the banner for the entire Pac-12 moving forward. Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State, USC and Utah all were jettisoned from the field in the past 48 hours.

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None of those programs, though, could dream of executing Oregon’s up-tempo system with the same aplomb. Head coach Dana Altman dares you to run with the likes of junior small forward Dillon Brooks (16.6 points) and 6-foot-10 matchup nightmare Chris Boucher.

Many have tried. Virtually every one of them failed. Despite Bembry and Isaiah Miles’ best efforts, Saint Joseph’s won’t be the exception. Expect the Ducks’ length to create a huge chasm at roughly the halfway point here.

SUNDAY NCAA FREE PICK: OREGON -6.5

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