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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 7:00 PM

You know there must have been some Friday upsets if the “best” late day Sunday matchup we can find to preview is Oregon vs. St. Joseph’s! The downside of a day of upset thrills is that the following matchups can leave something to be desired. Mid-majors can be very inconsistent from one game to the next. It would be a great storyline if somebody like Stephen F. Austin, Northern Iowa, or Middle Tennessee State cans sneak through to the Sweet 16. We’ll deal with those storylines if they happen!

For now, let’s look at the #1 seed in the West…an Oregon team that’s just as hot as anybody in the country, as they take on upset-minded St. Joseph’s…a gritty team that survived a “just-after-the-last-second” dunk to beat Cincinnati.

Here’s what happened with these teams in the first round…


Oregon 91, Holy Cross 52

Two-Point Shooting: Holy Cross 44%, Oregon 68%

Three-Pointers: Holy Cross 6/23, Oregon 6/20

Free Throws: Holy Cross 6/15, Oregon 7/22

Rebounds Holy Cross 28, Oregon 44

Turnovers: Holy Cross 10, Oregon 7

Phantom Score: Holy Cross 56, Oregon 100

Oregon justified its number one seed with a blowout fitting a 1-16 matchup. They were helped by Holy Cross having to play Wednesday in Dayton before flying all the way out to Spokane. But, at least everyone saying Michigan State should have been a #1 seed over Oregon has shut up! Not much to say beyond the final score. JIM HURLEY’S “Phantom Score” (two-point scoring plus rebounding) says it was a clean blowout. Fresh Oregon really is that much better than tired Holy Cross.


St. Joseph’s 78 Cincinnati 76

Two-Point Shooting: Cincinnati 58%, St. Joseph’s 58%

Three-Pointers: Cincinnati 10/24, St. Joseph’s 9/25

Free Throws: Cincinnati 10/13, St. Joseph’s 13/17

Rebounds Cincinnati 30, St. Joseph’s 29

Turnovers: Cincinnati 9, St. Joseph’s 6

Phantom Score: Cincinnati 66, St. Joseph’s 67

It’s weird to have a “grinder” turn out so high scoring with such high two-point shooting percentages. Teams had to watch their fouls. Both seemed content to allow easy buckets inside if the opponent was able to get it inside. Those low turnover counts are also a surprise. Patience was eventually rewarded for both teams. You can see that Phantom Score has the game about 10 points lower for each team. The Las Vegas total was 133…and Phantom Score registered right there in the neighborhood. To the degree this boxscore might foreshadow Sunday action…St. Joseph’s is going to be in HUGE trouble if they can’t play any better defense than that. Good luck taking out a #1 seed if you allow in the mid 50’s inside the arc and only take the ball away 9 times!


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Oregon: 119.1 per 100 possessions (#7 in the nation)

St. Joseph’s: 113.9 per 100 possessions (#25 in the nation)

JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats are going to show you why Oregon is favored, but won’t really confirm that they deserve to be a #1 seed. Adjusted efficiency numbers are from the publicly available data at Ken Pomeroy’s website ( They’re adjusted for pace and schedule strength. Oregon has the better of the two offenses. You might be surprised that St. Joe’s is top 25 on this side of the floor. They weren’t much on the media radar this year because ESPN doesn’t have a high profile contract with their conference. Oregon was on ESPN’s family of networks a lot…but in very late starting times that the East Coast media often missed.  


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Oregon: 97.5 per 100 possessions (#49 in the nation)

St. Joseph’s: 100.4 per 100 possessions (#101 in the nation)

This is the weaker side of the floor for both teams. It’s basically IMPOSSIBLE for a team that ranks #49 in defense to be a “true” #1 Dance seed in this sport. That late surge in the Pac 12 tournament forced the Selection Committee’s hand. Most respected computers wouldn’t have had Oregon so high. Neither would have the betting marketplace, which will be more clear if Oregon runs into other national powers. They wouldn’t be pick-em with the other #1 seeds (Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia). Edge to Oregon here, but exploitable weaknesses for both.


Pace Ranking

Oregon: #174

St. Joseph’s: #79

Probably everyone in the country thinks Oregon is the faster of these two teams. Not true this year! Oregon has slowed way down to “average” from “breakneck.” It’s St. Joseph’s that prefers to push the ball. Wouldn’t it be something if Oregon gets trapped into running by this opponent, and starts turning the ball over left and right? Interesting dynamic to ponder. Can Oregon slow things down to stay in their comfort zone? (!)


Against the Spread

Oregon: 20-12

St. Joseph’s: 23-10-1

Pay attention! So many of our previews this season have shown that it’s hard for good teams to earn money for their backers. Oregon’s recent hot streak has pushed them to 20-12 ATS for the season. That’s amazing for a conference champion. St. Joseph’s was even more underrated by the markets with that 23-10-1 mark. That’s a combined 43-22-1 vs. the market for these two “off the radar” teams. Once again…media coverage inflates the spreads for powers in the main TV conferences in the East and Midwest. Be great out West or in a non-ESPN conference, and you can cash tickets all season.

Who should you bet in Oregon/St. Joseph’s? NETWORK clients may be finding out shortly! You can purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 before Villanova/Iowa gets started early in the day.

See you Monday for a “Week One Review” of the Big Dance. Then, our big game previews will resume midweek for the Sweet 16 round. Keep reading the NOTEBOOK for helpful handicapping information. And, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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