The Pac-12 battles the ACC as the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks take on the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the South Region Sweet Sixteen showdown at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, this Thursday night. Virginia is listed as a strong fave to make it to the Elite Eight, and the Cavaliers defeated the Ducks 67-54 in their previous head-to-head duel back in 2011. NCAAB: Thursday, March 28, 2019, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky, 9:57 PM ET
The Ducks are the lowest seed left in the bracket, searching for another upset
The Oregon Ducks (25-12; 10-8 Conf.) toppled the No. 5 seed Wisconsin 72-54 in the first round of the South Region and are coming off a 73-54 second-round victory over the UC Irvine Anteaters this past Sunday. Oregon dropped a 12-point lead early in the second half against the Anteaters, but the Ducks tightened up their defense to completely destroy their rivals in the final ten minutes. The Ducks allowed UC Irvine to hit just 39.2% of its field goals while forcing 15 turnovers. On the other side, the Ducks shot 45.8% from the field, nailing 13 triples out of 25 attempts from deep. Payton Prichard had 18 points, seven assists, and four rebounds, while Kenny Wooten added 11 points, eight boards, and whopping seven blocks.
The Ducks’ head coach Dana Altman is well aware that his team will have a tall task in the Sweet Sixteen. “We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us. We don’t get an opportunity to watch Virginia much during the season because of the time difference, but last couple days, watching them on film, very impressive team, well coached,” Altman said. “Know what they want to do on every possession. So it will be a big challenge for our basketball team, but our guys are excited about the opportunity, excited about the challenge, and we’re going to have to play awfully well to give ourselves an opportunity.”
Oregon entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 51 at the NCAA NET Rankings and is the No. 29 at the latest KenPom rankings. The Ducks are scoring 109.7 points per 100 possessions (74th in the country), allowing just 92.2 points in a return (15th), while their strength of schedule was 70th in the country. Payton Pritchard is a key player in this Oregon team, and senior guard is averaging 13.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. Freshman forward Louis King is posting 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest, while senior forward Paul White is adding 10.6 points per game on 45.0% shooting from the field.
The Cavaliers are looking to continue with their strong performance
The Virginia Cavaliers (31-3; 16-2 Conf.) defeated the No. 9 seed Oklahoma Sooners 63-51 in the second round of the South Region on the back of another excellent defensive performance. They allowed the Sooner to make just 36.5% of their field goals, while the Cavaliers shot 48.2% from the field and just 29.2% from beyond the arc. Mamadi Diakite accounted for 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field along with nine rebounds and three blocks. Braxton Key added nine points and nine boards off the bench, while Kyle Guy scored just four points, missing all his ten attempts from downtown. Virginia outlasted Gardner-Webb 71-56 in the first round, while the Cavaliers have won 11 of their previous 12 games overall.
Virginia entered the Big Dance as a No. 1 at the NCAA NET Rankings and is the No. 1 at the latest KenPom rankings. The Cavaliers are scoring 123.0 points per 100 possessions (2nd in the country), surrendering 88.1 points in a return (3rd), while their strength of schedule was 34th in the country. De’Andre Hunter is leading the way for Virginia, as the sophomore guard is averaging 15.2 points and 5.0 rebounds while hitting 52.9% of his field goals and 44.6% of his 3-pointers. Junior guard Kyle Guy is tallying 15.1 points per contest on 45.4% shooting from the field and 43.9% from beyond the arc, while another junior guard Ty Jerome is posting 13.0 points, 3.9 boards, and 5.3 assists per game.
- 5-9 ATS in the last 14 games as underdogs of eight or fewer points
- Under is 12-3-1 in the last 16 outings
- 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last ten contests overall
- 16-4 ATS in the last 20 games as favorites of eight or fewer points
The Winner Prediction
The Oregon Ducks are the biggest surprise of the tournament so far, but I don’t think they have enough offensive firepower to upset Virginia. Oregon’s defense was too much for Wisconsin and UC Irvine, and the Ducks will have to put on another strong defensive display if they want to stay close on this one. However, the Cavaliers execute well offensively, and their defense is among the best in the country, so I’m backing Virginia to shut down Ducks’ offense and cover the spread.
The Pick: Virginia Cavaliers -8.0 (-110)