Elite 8 Pick
No surprises here, at least from a seeding standpoint. The No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed will meet in the West Region for a chance to go to the Final Four. Both Oregon and Oklahoma can run up and down the cOurt and that’s we’ll get to see in this matchup.
The Sooners haven’t been fully tested yet, coming off a rather easy win over Texas A&M. The Aggies had an advantage in the paint, but didn’t really use that and ended up getting run out of the cOurt by a more athletic team. VCU was Oklahoma’s biggest test because the Rams played the same way as the Sooners, fast-paced with a bunch of athletes.
Oregon brings that same type of play to the cOurt with a number of lengthy, athletic guys that Oklahoma hasn’t seen yet in the Tournament. The Ducks have had some more trouble, struggling to get past St. Joe’s, but then putting it all together against the Blue Devils.
The obvious player to watch in this Game is Buddy Hield, although even with 17 points and 10 boards last Game, he wasn’t the ultimate difference maker for Oklahoma. In that Game, Jordan Woodard led the team in scoring going 5-of-6 from deep for 22 points. Christian James also came out of nowhere to go 4-of-6 from beyond the arc for 12 points, well above his 2.9 average. If the Sooners are getting numbers like that out of players other than Hield, this team will be hard to beat.
But Oklahoma will have a more difficult time defending this Oregon team than anything A&M brought the other night. The Ducks, similar to Oklahoma with Hield, are led by one guy that can do it all. Dillon Brooks scored 22 points to go with five boards, six assists and only one turnover in the win over Duke. He will be just as important in this Game.
It’ll be interesting to see how Oklahoma matches up on the defensive end, but we could see a Hield vs. Brooks matchup. If that’s the case, that means Ryan Spangler will be on Elgin Cook with Khadeem LAttin on Chris Boucher. The Ducks also bring Jordan Bell off the bench, who was phenomenal against Duke with 13 points, 7 boards, 2 steals and 3 blocks, and he’ll be a problem for Oklahoma as well. Whether the Sooners go small or big, they’ll have a disadvantage not only in size, but also in athleticism. Expecting Spangler to keep up with someone like Bell or even Cook or Brooks will be an issue for the Sooners.
Another important thing for the Ducks will be matching production at the guard spots with Tyler Dorsey and Casey Benson. Both of those guys have stepped up in the Tournament and will need to go toe-to-toe with Isaiah Cousins and Woodard. If Oklahoma gets an edge there in addition to Hield, the Sooners are tough to beat.
But as it stands, Oklahoma will have trouble with the athleticism that Oregon brings at all five positions. Having both Spangler and LAttin in the Game at the same time could be problematic and if they go smaller, will give up size to guys like Boucher and Bell.
The Sooners are getting more love in the books, but that’s partly due to Buddy Hield. With a better all around team, the Ducks should be the one favored here.
Our Pick – Oregon -1.5