The Oregon Ducks skim past the Michigan Wolverines with a 69-68 sweet 16 victory Thursday night. This was a great game that came down to the wire. There were 6 lead changes in between the 4:30 mark and 1 minute. Both teams had chances to close out the game, but neither team could do it. Oregon just happened to have the lead with 1 min left and neither team scored after that.
Michigan senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. has been phenomenal during Michigan’s NCAA run – even dating back to their conference tournament games. However, he fell just short on a buzzer beating 3-point shot to end Michigan’s Cinderella title run. Walton Jr. finished with a team high 20 points.
The Ducks had themselves a hard fought game. Missed free could have cost them the game, but some perseverance and great play from junior forward Jordan Bell and sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey kept their hopes alive. Jordan Bell secured 3 (2 offensive 1 defensive) of his 13 rebounds in the final 2 minutes of the game. Bell was huge for Oregon. He also added 16 points and 2 blocks. The biggest moment in the game came when Oregon was down 3 with just under 2 minutes left in the game. Dylan Ennis shot and missed a FT, but Bell was there to get the offensive rebound and put it back in for the score. If Michigan came down and scored on the next possession Oregon could very likely be sent home.
Tyler Dorsey had a great performance as well. He continues to stay hot while making some big shots down the stretch of games. If the Ducks have everything going, they’re tough to beat.
Oregon will take on Kansas in the Elite 8 on Saturday, March 25 at 5:49 PT. Some key factors if they want to advance to the final four:
- Improve on their poor tournament free throw shooting (66%).
- They need a big game out of their leading scorer Dillon Brooks.
- Control the pace.
Oregon has shot under 70% from the line in each of their tournament games. Against a great team like Kansas, they can’t afford to keep throwing away FREE points.
With Brooks and Dorsey, the Ducks have guys that can step up and make big shots in close games. Against Kansas, they’ll need more than just Bell’s defense and rebounding, or the scoring from their top 2 play-makers. They need everyone on their A game to have a chance. Brooks needs to be extra special in this one. He has had some very good games this year, but we have yet to see him breakout this tournament.
Kansas has steamrolled their way through the competition. They are a well-oiled machine right now. Currently averaging 96 PPG, Kansas looks like a heavy favorite in this one. They’re clicking on both sides of the ball. The key for Oregon is to control the pace of the game. By not turning the ball over and winning the rebounding battle will prevent Kansas from getting on fast breaks. Oregon can slow down Kansas’ offense by doing those things. Better said than done, Kansas’ guard are playing on another level right now. The defense is creating turnovers and their offense has been very potent due to their guard play.
Oregon falls to Kansas in the Elite 8. Kansas is just too good right now. Very well coached. They adjust well to the Oregon has their flaws. An injured Chris Boucher leaves them with one solid big in Jordan Bell. Bell gets in foul trouble and this game is over. The guards have to excellent for Oregon and I haven’t seen them consistent enough to believe that that will happen this weekend. Oh, and Kansas is basically playing a home game being 30 minutes away from their home arena. Kansas is playing with flawless execution and I don’t expect anything less of them versus Oregon.