Holy Cross Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Holy Cross Crusaders
Patriot League (14-19, 5-13)
Coach Bill Carmody came to Holy Cross this season and installed his Princeton offense. Most thought it would take some time for his system to start working with the Crusaders. And they were right. This team finished ninth in the Patriot League with a 5-13 conference record. As the nine seed in the tournament, Holy Cross would have to go on the road four times and win all four to make the NCAA Tournament. Heading into the tournament, the team had lost five in a row and seven of their last eight. But somehow the Crusaders managed to pull off the impossible and beat Loyola, Bucknell, Army and Lehigh to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2007.
Big Wins: 11/29 Harvard (50-49), 3/3 at Bucknell (77-72), 3/9 at Lehigh (59-56)
Bad Losses: 11/16 at Brown (55-71), 1/13 at Lafayette (52-65), 1/27 Loyola MD (54-71)
Coach: Bill Carmody
Why They Can Surprise:
The surprise for Holy Cross was probably getting to the NCAA Tournament in the first place. However, the Princeton offense is difficult to prepare for and something different than many teams are used to seeing. That helped this group in the Patriot League tournament and it can help them in the NCAAs too. Like all Princeton offenses, Holy Cross takes care of the ball and moves the ball well. Guard Anthony Thompson dishes out 2.6 assists per game and commits just one turnover. But it is the passing of the big guys that make the Crusaders difficult to deal with. Forward Karl Charles dishes out 2.5 assists per game and fellow forward Malachi Alexander actually leads the team in assists. And those bigs can stretch out the defense with their outside shooting. Charles, who averages 10.8 points per game, has not been the most consistent outside shooter, but he is a threat to shoot. Alexander is really the marksman on this team and he knocks down 43.4 percent of his long range attempts. Alexander is only 6-7 and 217 pounds, so he is not the largest five-man around, but when you have a forward or center that can pass, shoot and bang around in the paint like Alexander, he is very tough to defend. Put that into the Princeton offense and Alexander becomes a nightmare for the opposition.
Why They Can Disappoint:
This style of play always has trouble in the rebounding department. And that is even truer at a program like Holy Cross where the talent level is not as high as some other places. It does not help that this is year one in the system and Coach Carmody does not have experienced players who were recruited to play the Princeton offense. As a result, this is one of the worst rebounding teams in the country. They do have a good turnover margin, but not nearly enough to make up those lost possessions on the glass. And many of those lost rebounds come on the defensive end and lead to easy put back opportunities for the opposition. In order to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament, Holy Cross needs to keep doing what they did in the Patriot League Tournament…knock down shots and play great defense. If Robert Champion or Cullen Hamilton can get hot from long range and join Thompson and Alexander as major shooting and scoring threats, this team might have a little more magic left. But that is not enough magic to beat a #1 seed.
Probable Starters:
Anthony Thompson, Junior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 2.6 apg
Cullen Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 8.7 ppg, 1.8 apg
Eric Green, Senior, Guard, 4.6 ppg
Karl Charles, Freshman, Forward, 10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Malachi Alexander, Junior, Forward, 12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 apg
Key Roleplayers:
Robert Champion, Junior, Guard, 11.5 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.8 rpg
Matt Husek, Junior, Center, 6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Matt Zignorski, Freshman, Guard, 3.7 ppg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.5 (317th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.1 (134, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.2 (293, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 46.0 (303, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.0 (169, 7)   
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.5 (268, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.6 (1786)
Rebound Margin:  -5.4 (319, 9)
Assists Per Game:  13.8 (138, 5)
Turnovers Per Game:  11.1 (37, 1)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2014    CIT      First Round win over Brown
2014    CIT      Second Round loss to Yale
2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Southern Illinois
2005    NIT      First Round win over Notre Dame
2005    NIT      Second Round loss to St. Joseph's
2003    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Marquette
2002    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Kansas
2001    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Kentucky
*all team stats through 3/6