Game 36 – No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Oregon: Preview and Prediction

After a 98-66 rout of Purdue on Thursday night, the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks (31-4, 16-2 Big 12) are headed back to their second consecutive Elite Eight. Despite falling behind 33-25 in the first half, the Jayhawks would finish the game on a 73-33 run to blow away the Big Ten champs. KU will now quickly turn their attention to the third-seeded Oregon Ducks (32-5, 16-2 Pac-12).

The Ducks are coming off one of the more impressive wins of the tournament, as they knocked off perhaps the hottest team remaining in Michigan. Like Kansas, Oregon is also in their second straight Elite Eight. Last season, the Ducks fell to another Big 12 foe in Oklahoma, 80-68. Many pieces from last year’s team are back including Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis. Everyone knows about Brooks, but it has been Dorsey who has been carrying the Ducks down he stretch.

KU’s matchup with Purdue was one of contrasting styles. This one with Oregon should be quite the opposite. The Ducks play a similar game to KU where they are guard oriented, looking to push it and find open shooters. This should be an outstanding matchup on Saturday night in Kansas City.

Game Notes

  • Kansas leads the all-time series 4-3
  • Kansas won the last meeting in 2003, 77-67, in Lawrence
  • Kansas now holds a 103-44 record in the NCAA Tournament
  • Kansas is 34-7 all-time at the Sprint Center, including a 4-1 mark this season
  • Through three NCAA Tournament games senior guard Frank Mason is averaging 22.6 points, 6.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds
  • In KU’s victory over Purdue, Mason had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists — He also shot 9-11 from the field and 4-5 from three
  • Junior guard Devonte’ Graham continued his hot shooting against Purdue. He was 5-9 from three with 26 points. Graham is shooting 59% from long range in the NCAA Tournament
  • Freshman Josh Jackson is averaging 18.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in NCAA tourney action — Jackson had 15 points on 6-13 shooting and 12 rebounds, it was his 12th double-double of the season
  • In tournament play, senior Landen Lucas is averaging 8.3 points and 8.6 rebounds. Lucas was instrumental in helping contain Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan
  • A win would give Kansas 32 wins for the second straight season and the 12th time in program history, seven of those season have come under Bill Self
  • VegasInsider.com has Kansas as the favorite at -5

When: Saturday, March 25, 2017, 7:49pm CT

Where: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

How to Watch: TBS or March Madness App

How to Listen: Jayhawk Radio Network

Oregon Ducks (32-5, 16-2 Pac-12)

After seeing UCLA and Arizona get most of the fanfare in the Pac-12 this season, you may overlook the fact that Oregon was actually the conference’s regular season champion. They seem to keep flying under the radar compared to their other Pac-12 foes, but nevertheless Oregon is a very good basketball team that is very well coached.

Led by Brooks and Dorsey, the Ducks have a formidable backcourt than can go up against anyone in the nation. Brooks was the Player of the Year in the Pac-12 this season. He’s averaging 16.3 points and is shooting over 50% from the field, and 41% from distance.

Dorsey has been on an absolute tear in the post season. In five postseason game (both conf. and NCAA tourney) Dorsey is averaging 23.4 points and is shooting 62% from the floor and an even higher 63% from three. He had a nearly perfect performance in Oregon’s second round win over Rhode Island, as he was 9-10 from the field (4-5 from three). He’s also scored at least 20 points in six straight games.

They also have great complimentary pieces with Ennis, Jordan Bell and Payton Pritchard.

The Ducks will be without their best post player in Chris Boucher. Boucher was the Pac-12’s leading shot blocker at 2.5 per game. He suffered a season ending knee injury in Oregon’s Pac-12 tournament win over Cal. Luckily for the Ducks, they have another shot blocker averaging 2+ per game in Bell.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman should have some familiarity with the Jayhawks. He’s from Nebraska and coached at both Kansas State and nearby Creighton. He’s quietly been one of the better coaches over the last 25+ seasons.

Strengths/Weaknesses

Strength – Three-Point Shooting: The Ducks are top 50 in three-point percentage as they rank 42nd, shooting 38% from beyond the arc this season. Brooks and Dorsey are their best three-point threats — both are over 40%.

Strength – Rim Protection: Oregon is top three in block percentage, blocks per game and blocked shots at the rim this season. Again though, they will be without their best rim protector in Boucher. The Ducks have been well under their season average in blocks since his injury.

Strength – Offensive Rebounding: The Ducks are top 100 in offensive rebounding percentage. Although, against Michigan they had just six offensive boards, and Michigan was 221st in defensive rebounding.

Strength – Three-Point Defense: Oregon is 23rd nationally in opponents three-point percentage. They held Michigan to 35% from distance, but did allow the Wolverines to get off 31 outside shots.

Strength – Low Post Defense: Oregon defends shots at the rim real well — they rank 13th nationally in opponents FG% at the rim.

Strength – Transition Defense/Offense: This is the third straight game where KU has faced a pretty good transition defense. Oregon ranks 33rd and 35th in opponents chances and FG% in transition. They also are top 15 is offensive transition opportunities and FG%


Weakness – Free Throw Shooting: Oregon shoots just 70% from the line, which ranks them 182nd nationally.

Weakness – Forcing Turnovers: The Ducks are pretty middle of the pack in terms of forcing turnovers. They force just around 13.5 a game, which ranks 124th nationally.

Weakness – Allowing Three-Point Shots: Like Purdue, Oregon does a good job of keeping opponents 3-PT% down, but they do allow teams to get off their fair share of three-pointers. Opponents are averaging about 20 threes a game this season. Again, if Kansas gets that many I’m sure they will gladly take that.

Weakness – Depth: They weren’t the deepest team to begin with when they had Boucher’s services, and now it’s even worse. Kavell Bigby-Williams has taken a few more minutes over the last three-four games, but he’s still averaging around 9 per game. Their rotation is really six deep, if they get in foul trouble it could be tough sledding for the Ducks.

Ducks to Watch

Dillon Brooks – 6’7″, Wing, Junior

  • Pac-12 Player of the Year
  • Averaging 16.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.7 RPG
  • One of the team’s best three-point threats — 41%
  • Can create for himself and can score from anywhere on the floor
  • Has made some clutch shots this season
  • Not a great rebounder considering his size

Tyler Dorsey – 6’4, Guard, Sophomore

  • Honorable Mention Pac-12 performer
  • Averaging 14.1 PPG
  • One of the team’s best three-point threats — 41%
  • Oregon’s hottest player right now — Averaging 23.4 PPG in the post season
  • Scores mainly off three-pointers — 50% of his shots have been threes
  • Not the best distributor — only averaging 1.8 APG

Jordan Bell – 6’9″, Forward, Junior

  • Second Team All-Pac 12 performer
  • Averaging 10.9 PPG and 8.5 RPG
  • Efficient scorer, as he’s shooting 62% from the floor
  • Almost automatic around the bucket — 71% at the rim
  • Not much of a threat outside the post, but does shoot an occasional midrange jumper
  • Team’s best rebounder — has posted five straight double-digit rebound performances
  • Team’s best shot blocking threat
  • Great athlete

Three Keys

  • Play Inside-Out: For a while in the first half against Purdue, Kansas tried to do this with Landen Lucas and they had some success because Purdue kept doubling him. Against a team that is as size challenged as Oregon, they got to work it in to Lucas and see if it opens any shooters. Lucas is a pretty good passer out of the post, so if they decide to double him he does a pretty good job of getting the ball to the open man. Also, if KU can get Oregon into some foul trouble, that would go a long way.
  • Keep Making Shots: Kansas has shot the ball real well through the first three NCAA Tournament games. They’ve shot over 50% in each game, two of which came against pretty good defensive teams in Purdue and Michigan State. Graham has been sizzling hot from the outside and Mason has been Mason. KU needs to keep up the hot shooting.
  • Play Fast: Michigan State and Purdue were both very good teams in terms in transition defense, that didn’t stop KU from getting out and running as much as possible — which is perhaps Kansas’ biggest strength. They shouldn’t approach this matchup any differently. Mason has been awfully hard to contain off the dribble and in the open court.

Prediction

Kansas 87, Oregon 81

Statistically, Oregon is a great defensive team, but when you look at the competition they played in conference those numbers can be skewed a bit. When they have played elite offensive teams such as Arizona and UCLA, they have allowed their fair share of points. Unless KU completely goes ice-cold, don’t expect anything differently on Saturday night.

Kansas has also ramped up their defensive effort in the NCAA Tournament. They forced 18 turnovers in Thursday’s win over Purdue, a team who does a good job of taking care of the ball. I like Kansas to make a few more stops on the defensive end.

At this point, the only guy who can stop Frank Mason is Frank Mason. He’s playing at such as high level at the right time. His backcourt buddy Devonte’ Graham has came alive as well. Oregon does matchup well with these two with Ennis and Dorsey, but I still give the edge to KU in the backcourt.

The matchup to watch is Josh Jackson vs. Dillon Brooks. Offensively against Purdue, Jackson wasn’t as good as we’ve seen him, but he did so much more to impact the game such as defending and rebounding. Can Brooks keep up with Jackson? We shall see.

If Oregon has Boucher, I would have given them the advantage down low, but without him I’ll go with Kansas. Landen Lucas has done an exceptional job of defending the paint this season, and it showed vs. Purdue. He’s added more of an offensive element to his game as well. If he can stay out of foul trouble, I think he should have another nice game.

For the Inside the Paint podcast’s preview, head HERE and go to the 44-minute mark of the show!

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I’m from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I’m a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They’ll always come No.1.