Sweet 16 Tale: #1 Oregon Vs. #4 Duke
- CoachingDana Altman is in his fifth year as the head coach of Oregon. After seven years at Creighton, which resulted in seven NCAA tournament appearances, he has his Ducks in their third straight March Madness appearance. They made the Sweet Sixteen in his third year with the team and find themselves back three years later. Altman has turned Oregon into one of the top teams in the nation, and this year might be his best team.No matter how good the opposing coach, there isn’t a coach in college basketball that matches up with Mike Krzysewski, who is in his 36th year as the head coach for Duke. He has won five NCAA championships, his most recent coming last season. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and has won 970 games over his career. He has been to the Sweet Sixteen 22 times in his career and has won that game 13 times.
- OffenseThe Ducks are led by sophomore Dillon Brooks, who has averaged 16.8 ppg over the season, but he isn’t alone when it comes to the Ducks’ high scoring offense. Elgin Cook, Tyler Dorsey, and Chris Boucher all averaged double-digits over the season as well. They scored 91 points in the tournament opening game against Holy Cross, with Boucher leading the way with 20 points. While Brooks was silent in the opening tournament game, he exploded for 25 points against Saint Joseph’s to prove he is still the team’s leader.Grayson Allen is the star of the Duke offense, with 21.8 ppg, but Brandon Ingram was right there with him at 17.1 ppg. Against UNC-Wilmington, Ingram scored 20 points, Ingram added 23 points, and Marshall Plumlee added 23 of his own. Against the Cinderella story Yale team, Ingram scored 25 and Allen scored 29. This is a Duke team that can score a lot of points, and that isn’t good news for an Oregon team that may not be able to stop them on defense.
- DefenseElgin Cook finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and 13 rebounds against Holy Cross, to open the NCAA tournament. In the second game, it was bench player Jordan Bell who led the team with 10 rebounds, although Oregon finished with seven blocks as a team. This team is all about the scoring, but they have to do better on defense.In the first round, against a 13 seed UNC-Wilmington, Duke’s defense gave up 85 points. They finished with 40 rebounds and eight blocks in the game, but they can’t always give up that many points and win the game. Their main star on defense is Plumlee, who finished the Yale game with 10 rebounds, eight on defense, and he needs to really step up to beat Oregon.
- Bench DepthThe Ducks are very limited. There are three bench players that the Ducks use, beyond that, there’s no real threat coming off the bench. They are nowhere near deep enough to go further in the tournament. Even if they can get past Duke, they have little chance of moving past the Elite Eight. Against Saint Joseph’s, only two bench players made it in the game and combined for five points and 13 rebounds.Oregon has almost nothing when it comes to bench depth, but Duke has it worse. There are only two bench players who played in the first two March Madness games, and that was Chase Jeter and Derryck Thornton, both freshman. They combined to average 9.1 ppg through the regular season, but only have scored 12 points in the first two tournament games. Duke can’t afford to fall behind and need any bench help in this tournament.
Oregon has all the talent in the world to win this game, but Duke has some major stars on their team that can keep it close. If this is a close game that comes down to a final play, expect Oregon to pull it out, but Duke should be strong enough to knock off the number one seed and make it to the Elite Eight, where they will fall.