March Madness Pick
We almost lost Our first 1-seed Sunday night, but Oregon made a run in the final few minutes to take down St. Joseph’s for a 69-64 win. The Ducks get to take on last year’s champion, Duke, whose route to the Sweet 16 includeda 13- and 12-seed.
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The Blue Devils may have had an easy run on paper, but they didn’t win either of their first two matchups with ease. After dominating Yale in the first half, they ended up being outscored 39-23 in the second half against the Bulldogs. A lack of a bench became a bit of a problem as Matt Jones battled foul trouble and eventually fouled out in the Game. Also, not having a reliable big man to feed the ball to in times of need could come back to bite them.
But on the other end, it’s a similar situation with Oregon, who doesn’t really have a true big guy to go to in the post. But, everyone on the roster can shoot the ball, including Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook.
Duke’s main advantage in the early rounds has been the Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram combo. That’s to be expected of course as those two do all the scoring for this team. But this will be the first matchup of the Tournament in which those guys have some actual resistance. Ingram is usually a matchup problem due to his long frame and ability to knock down shots, but Oregon has an athletic and long team.
Ingram will still have a height advantage no matter who marks him up, but Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook have some muscle and those two should be able to keep up. We may also see Jordan Bell on him, who’s super athletic at 6-8 and may be the x-factor in this Game.
OUtside of Ingram, stopping Allen from penetrating and LUke Kennard from getting open looks are the other things needed to beat Duke. again, Oregon’s athleticism should play a key role in stopping someone like Allen.
The Ducks have a balanced scoring squad that will be able to keep up with Duke, especially with how the Blue Devils’ defense has looked the last couple Games. Brandon Sherrod, Yale’s 6-6 forward gave Duke a lot of trouble last Game and dropped 22 points. Oregon has multiple players in that mold in Brooks and Cook, who can do a lot of the same things, but also shoot decently well. Brooks has been Oregon’s best player all season and stopping him will be at the top of the list for Duke’s defense.
The Ducks can match up well with Duke, and that’s the first time that’s happened for the Blue Devils in this Tournament. If they can keep Ingram in check just a little bit, the door will be open for Oregon to pull this thing out. Ingram has feasted on easy matchups this year, but this won’t be one of those easy Games.
At this point, Oregon probably still feels they have to justify the 1-seed they received and beating last year’s champions would be the best way to do so. The Ducks have the pieces to win, they’ll just need a few extra buckets from guys like Tyler Dorsey and Casey Benson to put them over the top.
Our Pick – Oregon -2.5