The Runner Sports

Oregon To Face Torching Hot Wolverines

The Oregon Ducks are back in the Sweet 16 once again and looking to make a permanent impact on history. Oregon brushed by Rhode Island Sunday after a shaky start, bouncing back to win 75-72. Rhode Island had a 46-38 lead at half time, but Dillon Brooks and the Ducks turned up the defense and outscored the Rams 37-26 in the second half. A challenging win is just what they needed to have to prepare for the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan is noted for their incredible win streak since the regular season has ended. The story of the airplane accident during takeoff before the conference title has been well told, and it is truly unbelievable how the team has responded since that accident. The man who’s done the most notable work is Derrick Walton Jr. an extremely dangerous scorer who runs the offense to perfection. Walton Jr. averages 15.4 points per game and shoots over 40% from three. D.J. Wilson is not only working on bringing the short shorts look back, but is balling hard during this tournament. He undoubtedly was the most dominant player during their second-round win over Louisville. Michigan has a good post presence, and can compete with anyone in the country. It looks like they may be on a magical run like UConn had in 2014 (also as a 7 seed).

The Oregon Ducks are the team standing in the way of the Wolverines’ storybook ending. Dillon Brooks would gladly be the guy to end it. Brooks averages 16.4 points a game, but in only 24 minutes on average. That means Brooks who plays just over half of then entire game is the leading scorer on either team in this matchup. The loss of Chris Boucher has not appeared to effect the Ducks as much as some would have thought. The reason for that is Oregon really hasn’t played a team with a dominant post presence. Michigan by no means in dominant down low, but is by far the best front court Oregon has faced thus far in the tournament. This means that Kavell Bigby-Williams will have to play the best basketball of his third season. The big man, formerly Boucher’s backup, averages just over 3 points a game, which is a far cry from Boucher’s 12. Boucher was also one of the most dominant shot blockers in the nation with 79 on the season. Luckily for Oregon, Jordan Bell happens to be just as good of a shot blocker with his 74. Look for Bell to step up in this Michigan game, his role is absolutely crucial to Oregon surviving this round. Payton Pritchard is a solid facilitator and needs to drive and kick to Brooks early, the bigger lead Oregon can accumulate early, the better off they will be when Michigan makes one of their surges.

Oregon looks to make a name for themselves in back-to-back tournaments. Formerly known more for the exciting jerseys and being a football school, Oregon is slowly confirming they are a national basketball powerhouse. If they could lock themselves into the Elite 8, especially over the hottest team in America, it could all fall into place from there. This game will not only be a fast-paced beauty, it is going to be scrappy and hard fought until the end.