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2017 NCAA Tournament: Kansas vs Oregon Elite 8 Preview

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Oregon vs Michigan Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In a lot of ways Oregon represents a simpler task than Purdue. There are no twin towers to worry about. No counter to their counter. It’s two teams lining up and going at it. But in a lot of ways that’s just as dangerous, especially when considering the run Oregon has been on.

The Ducks ranked 2nd in the Pac 12 in offense and are 19th nationally, although the way they go about it will be a little more familiar to Kansas fans. Like Kansas, Oregon has been going pretty small lately thanks to the injury to Chris Boucher, and like Kansas they do it fairly well. The way they get you could probably best be described as maddening consistency.

Oregon isn’t great in any one category, but is above average basically everywhere. They take a fair amount of threes, and make 38 percent of them on the season. They don’t turn it over a ton, but aren’t inside the top 50 nationally. They don’t hammer the offensive glass, although they are above the national average. (It is worth noting, however, they were 7th in the Pac 12 in offensive rebounding, suggesting they eschew attacking the glass against better competition.)

The main way Oregon scores is simply by being hyper efficient inside the arc, to the tune of 54.6 percent on the season, which is 18th nationally. They get a lot of those shots at the rim, around 40 percent to be exact, and they are pretty good at scoring at the rim as well. Some of that is due to offensive rebounding of course with 3 Ducks in double digits in terms of offensive rebound percentage, but it also shows Oregon has a pretty smart offense, getting most of its shots either at the rim or behind the arc.

Defensively, the Ducks led the Pac 12 in PPP allowed, and rank 23rd nationally. It’s worth noting they haven’t allowed fewer than 1 PPP since the semis of the Pac 12 tournament, but a lot of that can be traced to adjusting to defending without Boucher. Boucher had the 9th best block percentage in America, and was the biggest reason why Oregon as a team has blocked a higher percentage of opponents’ shots than any other team.

Oregon is almost the inverse of Purdue, ranking 301st in terms of allowing teams to get to the rim, and 13th in field goal percentage allowed at the rim. Since Boucher has gone down, Oregon has done a better job defending the 3-point arc, but it is worth noting they allow teams to take almost 38 percent of their shots from deep.

After what Kansas did to Purdue, those open threes probably won’t be as available, but that could open up some driving lanes for Kansas to take advantage of. The other notable part of Oregon’s defense is they defend well without fouling, ranking 11th in terms of sending teams to the line, so Frank Mason and company will have to work hard to get there.

Players to Watch

Dillon Brooks, 6-7 junior forward

Brooks functions a bit like Oregon’s version of Josh Jackson, shooting 54 percent on twos, 41.5 percent on threes, and with a usage rate over 30 percent to boot. He doesn’t contribute on the glass, but is a good passer (24 percent assist rate), draws fouls, and is underrated as a defender.

Tyler Dorsey, 6-4 sophomore guard

Dorsey has been great in the tournament, and has scored 20+ points in six straight games. He’s shooting 51 percent on twos, 41 percent on threes, and is 11-16 from three in the tournament. Like Brooks he doesn’t offer much in terms of rebounding, and he isn’t a great passer, but anyone who can shoot it like he can is someone to look out for.

Jordan Bell, 6-9 junior forward

Bell has really stepped up in Boucher’s absence, with 16 and 13 in the win over Michigan. For the season, he’s shooting 65.6 percent on twos, and was the 5th best offensive rebounder and 11th best defensive rebounder in the Pac 12. He’s also blocked his fair share of shots and was 5th in the Pac 12 in steal rate. He’s going to be a handful for Landen Lucas.

Things to Watch For

  1. Lucas vs Bell - Landen Lucas is no slouch on the glass himself, obviously, and if he can stay out of foul trouble and keep Bell off the glass that will go a long way towards a Kansas victory. Bell will probably end up getting his fair share of points and some rebounds, but Lucas’s job is to keep him from going nuts.
  2. Jackson vs. Brooks - I’m not sure how often Brooks will guard Jackson, but I do think Jackson will guard Brooks quite a bit. Even though he hasn’t exploded in the tournament, Brooks has been very good. Like Lucas, Jackson’s job will be to make him work for everything and if he is going to score a bunch, make him do so as inefficiently as possible.
  3. Mason vs. Dorsey - Unlike the first two, I would be pretty shocked if these two guard each other at all. But both have been their team’s best player in the tournament, both have the type of skill set to give the other team fits, and both have shown up big in big time games. Doesn’t get much better than that.