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Kansas

vs.

Oregon

Elite 8

Basketball Pick

3/25/17

Kansas wasn't getting talked about as much as some of the other big-name programs ahead of the tournament, but with the Jayhawks cruising through their competition to the Elite 8, that has changed. Ahead of Friday's games, Kansas was the favorite to win the championship and opened as a -6.5 point favorite against Oregon in the Elite 8 as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

After the demolition Kansas put on Purdue last game, it's hard to see many people not backing them, playing only a 45-minute drive from campus in Kansas City. The Jayhawks have looked a little sketchy in the first half of all their games, but that completely turns in the second half and they are blowing opponents off the court. Oregon has been close to the opposite, never fully disposing of Iona and then having to make some late-game heroics to beat both Rhode Island and Michigan. Either way, the Ducks are in the same spot and that's all that matters.

With how Kansas is playing, the one way Oregon can upset the Jayhawks is through the defensive end. Kansas has scored at least 90 points in all three of its games, but Oregon met a similarly-efficient Michigan offense last round and held the Wolverines down fairly well. With the use of mixed zones and pressure, the Ducks continue to confuse opponents and that could be something Kansas has difficulties with, especially with only one full day to prepare for the game. If Kansas shoots at the same rate Michigan did (11-of-31 from three-point), then this game could come down to the final minute, similar to how Oregon's last two went.

But again, who's going to bet against Kansas with the way it's playing right now? Between Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham and Josh Jackson, they've been close to unstoppable. All three of those guys have been hitting shots, but also driving to the hoop whenever they want. Down low, Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg have done enough to keep opposing big men in check and that's all that's needed, while Svi Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick have proven worthy as role players. Right now, everything is working for the Jayhawks and if they keep hitting shots, no one will beat them. But will they keep hitting their shots at the same rate?

Oregon's main goal will be to slow this game down and that's something they can do. While they may not be able to keep KU's guards in front of them, the Ducks have equally as good players to get easy buckets in Payton Pritchard, Dylan Ennis and most importantly Tyler Dorsey. Dillon Brooks will be matched up with Jackson a good portion of the game, but Dorsey has been Oregon's go-to guy in the tournament and has at least 20 points in his last six games, including 11 threes in three NCAA games. While those battles are great, Jordan Bell will be just as important down low for the Ducks. Kansas has faced a lot of bigger centers in the early games, but Bell is a different breed. He provides athleticism as a big which has led to at least 12 rebounds in each tournament game, not to mention he was the reason Oregon won last game. If Bell can cause havoc for the Kansas bigs, that would be advantage.

A lot of people are on Kansas because of how it's playing, but Oregon isn't a team to take lightly. The Ducks will slow the game down and throw tons of defensive looks at the Jayhawks, which could make this a lot closer than some think. And if Dorsey continues his scoring along with Brooks and Bell, there's no reason why this won't be another game that comes down to the wire for Oregon. But winning in Kansas City is going to take an almost perfect performance to top Kansas right now.

Our Pick - Kansas -7

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