(1) Louisville vs. (12) Oregon Preview
(1) Louisville Cardinals
The Colorado State Rams were coming off of an impressive performance in their opening round game against Missouri, but they were no match for the surging Cardinals, who continue to look like the team to beat. The Cardinals played their usual relentless brand of defense, forcing 19 turnovers in an 82-56 victory. The Rams did not have an answer for Russ Smith, who was hot from the start and finished with 27 points on a night where as a team the Cardinals shot 56 percent from the field and 55 percent from deep. Rebounding was a big part of the Rams’ success this season, but they were outrebounded by the Cardinals on Saturday 25-22. In the Sweet 16 against the Ducks the Cardinals have to overwhelm their guards with their pressure and be ready for another battle in the interior. The Ducks have struggled with turnovers throughout the year and if that trend continues the Cardinals’ run the national championship will as well.
(12) Oregon Ducks
Few teams in the country have been playing as good of basketball as the Billikens have over the last two months, but they could only muster 19 points in the first half against the Ducks and ended up falling eventually 74-57. Damyean Dotson was unconscious from three, making his first five and scoring a game high 23 on the evening. The Ducks really pounded the Billikens on the glass, only allowing three offensive rebounds despite holding them to 20-53 shooting from the field. Arsalan Kazemi once again led the efforts in that department, hauling in 16 to give him 33 on the tournament. Billikens forward Cory Remekun said it best: “They’re not the average 12 seed.” Still, they are going to have their hands full in the Sweet 16 against the top overall seed in the tournament. The Cardinals will feast if the Ducks don’t take better care of the basketball than they have been; they gave it up 18 times against the Billikens. They’re also going to be able to match up with their size inside and battle on the interior. To pull off their third straight upset the Ducks have to be efficient offensively and try to keep the Cardinals in foul trouble.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Louisville. The Cardinals made a major statement in the opening weekend and do not look like a team that is going to let up against the Ducks with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.