#4 Duke (25-10) vs #1 Oregon (30-6)
When: Thursday, March 24th 2016
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Time: 10:07 ET | TV: TBS
The Duke Blue Devils march toward back-to-back National Titles will be put to the test when they face the number one seeded Oregon Ducks in Thursday night’s Sweet 16 matchup. Duke is trying to become the first to win consecutive titles since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007. The Blue Devils have had to fend off a couple of pesky opponents in the first two rounds – beating UNC Wilmington and Yale. Duke squandered much of a 23-point halftime lead against Yale before winning 71-64 and allowed UNC Wilmington to hang around for most of the game in Round one. Duke relies heavily on their outside three-point shooting and only a six-man rotation. Duke is 20th in the country in three-point shooting (38.7%) led by Grayson Allen (21.8 points), freshman star Brandon Ingram (17.1 points), and junior guard Matt Jones (10.5 points), who can all light it up from beyond the arc. Center Marshall Plumlee (8.4 points, 8.7 rebounds) needs to be effective in the post against a pretty block-happy Ducks defense. Duke was outrebounded by Yale last week 42-28. Mike Krzyzewski (90) has more NCAA Tournament wins than any coach in history.
Oregon’s best season in school-history for wins is not only looking toward a Final Four, but earning some respect along the way. Many said the Ducks would be the first #1 seed to lose in this tournament and they almost did on Sunday before rallying for a 69-64 victory over St. Joseph’s. The Ducks are extremely efficient at the offensive end led by point guard Casey Benson, who averages just 5.9 points a game, but has an incredible 4.7-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio. The frontcourt does all of the scoring, which gives them a huge advantage over Duke. Forwards Dillon Brooks (16.8 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Elgin Cook (14.5 points, 5.1 rebounds) lead the way, and Chris Boucher (12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds) is a blocking machine. The Ducks have blocked a school-record 214 shots, led by Boucher’s school-record 109. Oregon’s perimeter defense is the main concern against an excellent 3-point shooting Duke team. They are 254th in the country in three-point percentage defense (35.7%), but faired well against Holy Cross and St. Joe’s in the first two rounds holding each to 26%.
Oregon is a much better all-around team and coach Dana Altman is very underrated. Duke’s lack of a strong interior game and depth have me worried. I really think Oregon wins this one easily.
Pick: Oregon -3