A lot of people are calling Michigan the team of destiny after what’s happened over the last couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean its Sweet 16 opponent is going to lie down for them. Still, as the 7-seed, the Wolverines opened as -1.5 point favorites over the 3-seeded Ducks at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Kansas City.
There’s no denying how impressive the Wolverines have been, winning seven straight Games, but it goes further than that. They’ve been good for close to two months with their only two losses since Feb. 7 coming in overtime at Minnesota and then at Northwestern on a ridiculous buzzer beater. They’ve surpassed expectations already in the NCAA Tournament, winning through the three-ball against Oklahoma State and then everything but three-pointers in the Louisville win.
It’s been a bit rougher for Oregon, mainly in the second round against Rhode Island. The Ducks were down by double-digits in second half, but made a late comeback helped by a final three by Tyler Dorsey to walk out with the win. If Oregon had Chris Boucher, it would probably be favored to win this Game, but without the big man, his absence is going to be a major talking point.
Michigan has a solid all-around team, but the difference has been what Mortiz Wagner and DJ Wilson provide at the Four and five-spots. Both can shoot from distance, but also take most big guys off the dribble. In addition to that, both have played great defense in the first couple Games. Without Boucher, Oregon has played a bit smaller than usual, moving Dillon Brooks to the Four and he’s giving up a few inches to most people in that spot. Without Boucher, the only real big man the Ducks have is Jordan Bell with Kavell Bigby-Williams still being a minor piece. Oregon may play a bit of zone because it’s hard to see Brooks dealing with Wilson by himself.
Of course, Michigan still has Derrick Walton, who has played like one of the best point guards in the country over the last month or so. He dealt just fine against the Louisville pressure and should have another good Game against the likes of Payton Pritchard and Casey Benson. The big thing for Oregon will be if it can limit the easy looks from outside for the Wolverines. In addition to the aforementioned guys, Duncan Robinson is probably their best shooter, while Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman can both create shots for themselves when needed.
Both of these teams have a lot of scorers, but the loss of Boucher is relevant on both ends of the cOurt for the Ducks and would be similar to the Wolverines losing a player like DJ Wilson. And for a team that got easy baskets at the hoop against Louisville last Game, Boucher, who averages 2.5 blocks per Game, won’t be there to cause havoc. To win this Game, the Ducks will need a better offensive performance. That’s definitely possible as seen throughout the season as Dorsey has dropped at least 20 points in the last five Games and Brooks is right there with him. But the big thing will be for not only Benson, Pritchard and Dylan Ennis to make shots, but also Bell to be active on the offensive end in the hopes of getting Wagner into foul trouble. Louisville had an edge when it went down low against the Wolverines, but the Ducks don’t have that same ability unless Bell can get going.
Michigan is one of the hottest teams and without Boucher, it’ll be hard to fully trust the Ducks in this matchup.
Our Pick – Michigan -1