(12) Oregon vs (1) Virginia
Time: 9 PM CT (TBS)
Spread: VA -8.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Oregon was supposed to be headlined by Bol Bol, son of NBA legend Manute Bol. But Bol sustained an injury that has left him off the court since early December. He will not play in this tournament, and he is expected to be a high NBA draft pick, putting an end to his career at Oregon after just nine games played. Instead, Oregon was reliant on a trio of Louis King, Payton Prichard, and Paul White. All three averaged double figures for the Ducks, who tallied a 70.5 point per game average as a team.
Oregon is one of the better defensive teams in the tournament, ranking No. 17 nationally and holding opponents to just 62.9 points per game. It used that defense to defeat Washington badly in the Pac-12 title game, holding Washington to just 48 points and winning by 20. In fact, Oregon has held four of its last five opponents under 60 points, and it ended the season with eight straight wins.
Oregon defeated #5 Wisconsin easily in the first round, rolling to a 72-54 victory. Point guard Payton Prichard had a huge game, shooting 8 of 18 from the field and hitting a lot of key shots that thwarted Wisconsin’s runs. Oregon shot 54.9 percent in the game while knocking down an efficient 7 of 15 from downtown. The Ducks were outrebounded in the game and committed 12 turnovers, but it held Wisconsin to just 33 percent shooting and did a good job of taking Ethan Happ out of the game (only 10 FGA). Oregon’s defense should be a different maker in this one, and it did a tremendous job on guard Dmitrick Trice in the win over Wisconsin.
Oregon defeated #13 UC Irvine in Round of 32 action. It won 73-54 and has now averaged a margin of victory of 18.5 points through its first two tournament games. Prichard shot 7 of 18 from the field for 18 points and the Ducks shot 45.8 percent as a team while limiting the Anteaters to just 39 percent shooting and 5 of 18 on threes. Oregon itself knocked down 13 of its 25 threes (52 percent) and is one of the tournament’s hottest teams even if it is heavy underdogs in the Sweet 16 while facing a #1 seeded Virginia team.
The Virginia Cavaliers finished the season with a No. 2 National ranking and 30-3 record. It defeated #16 Gardner-Webb by a 71-56 score in the first round. The game was tougher than the final score indicates, as the Cavaliers trailed the #16 seed by six points at the half, before outscoring it 40-21 in the second half. Virginia got 23 points from guard DeAndre Hunter, as he shot 9 of 16 from the field, also grabbing six rebounds and dishing out an assist. Virginia shot an outstanding 51 percent from the field in the win, but it struggled with the triple and its foul shots, knocking down just 7 of 23 from three and 8 of 13 from the line. Virginia also committed 15 turnovers, which were costly, but its talent took over in the second half of the game.
The Cavaliers were led by Kyle Guy and Hunter during the season, with both averaging 15.4 points per game and shooting 45 and 44 percent from three. Virginia took 663 threes on the season, which is a moderate amount, but the Cavaliers were extremely accurate on those attempts, shooting better than 40 percent as a team on the season. Ordinarily, free throws are not an issue for Virginia either: It shot a very respectable 74.6 percent as a team despite its opening round struggles there. The Cavaliers, of course, try to win games with defense. It limited opponents to just 55 points per game which was the stingiest defense in the nation. Scoring can be a problem for Virginia at times, but it is hardly as though a team that averages 71.8 points per game cannot score. It just prefers a grind it out pace, which allows the Cavaliers to maximize each possession and keep control over its opponents.