Mar 28, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Dana Altman catches a basketball as he gathers his team during practice the day before the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Sweet 16 Preview: Louisville vs. Oregon, Midwest Regional Semifinals

Team Record Conf Conf Rank PF PA FG% 3FG% FT% Streak
Louisville

Louisville

31-5 14-4 1st Big East 73.9 57.6 45.2 33.2 71.1 Won 12
Oregon

Oregon

28-8 12-6 2nd Pac-12 71.7 63.2 44.8 33.3 70.7 Won 5

Tip-time (EST): 7:15 p.m. (CBS)

Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

All-time series: 2-1 Oregon. The two schools last met on Nov. 24, 2001, when Oregon dealt Rick Pitino’s first Louisville team a 90-63 thrashing.

Louisville tournament history. This is Louisville’s second straight Sweet 16 appearance and fourth in six years (25th overall). The Cardinals are just .500 (12-12) all-time in regional semifinals, but 4-0 under Pitino. Louisville upset top-seeded Michigan State in the West Regional semis last season.

How Louisville got here: The Cards overpowered North Carolina A&T in the 1-vs.-16 game, then blitzed through an offensively-potent Colorado State squad on the power of 19 takeaways and 27 Russ Smith points. In two games, Louisville has forced a tournament-best 44 turnovers.

Oregon tournament history. The Ducks are making their fourth Sweet 16 appearance in school history. Oregon is 3-0 all-time in regional semifinals. The Ducks won the first-ever NCAA tournament in 1939, when only eight teams split into two regions comprised the field. This is Dana Altman’s first Sweet 16 trip in nine career tournament appearances.

How Oregon got here: Oregon knocked off Oklahoma State in the second round before cruising past fourth-seeded Saint Louis in the round of 32. The Ducks splashed 8-of-11 3-pointers to pace themselves past the Billikens, which sported a top-ten defense in terms of adjusted efficiency.

Key match-up: Louisville’s press vs. Oregon’s press break. Those banking on Oregon continuing its improbably run may want to keep this in mind: Louisville is the best team in college basketball at creating turnovers and Oregon is the most turnover prone team remaining in the field. The Ducks commit a turnover on 18.3-percent of their offensive plays, culprits of 36 giveaways in their first two NCAA tournament games alone. For Dana Altman’s team to even have a shot Friday night, it must protect the basketball better than it has all season.

Louisville key stat: The Cardinals have held their opponents to fewer than 55 points and 38-percent shooting during a 12-game winning streak that dates back to a 5-overtime loss at Notre Dame. Over the span, the team has forced an average of nearly 19 turnovers. Only one opponent, Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, has come within single digits since that memorable Saturday night in South Bend.

Oregon key stat: The Ducks were 5-4 without starting freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who missed a month with a foot injury. With him, the Pac-12 champs are 23-4. Oregon averages better than 74 points per game with Artis in the lineup, but only 63.8 points without him.

How Louisville wins: By continuing to do what’s gotten the team to this point. The Cards have a decided edge in size, athleticism, experience and talent — the golden quartet for winning tournament games — and would have to play well below their average game to lose this one. Oregon’s weaknesses feed right into Louisville’s trademark strengths. Provided Peyton Siva doesn’t have one of those no-shows he’s prone to from time to time, and assuming Russdiculous doesn’t relapse into past vices, the Cards should have this game in the bag. Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell must exert their size and athleticism advantages to keep Arsalan Kazemi, the tournament’s best rebounder, in check on the glass.

How Oregon wins: By playing its best game of the season. The Ducks can’t count on performances against Washington, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma State and even Saint Louis to stand up against the Cards. As good as Oregon has looked in convincing double-digit wins over a pair of higher seeded teams, it will take a season-best outing to down the tournament’s top-seed. Freshman hotshot Damyean Dotson must play like a star. E.J. Single must be the calming veteran presence on a team replete with underclassmen. Carlos Emory will need to aid Kazemi on the boards and Tony Woods must bump Gorgui Dieng off his hotspots on the low block. Above all, the Ducks must take care of the basketball. Merely carrying over their hot shooting from San Jose won’t be enough. Just ask Colorado State.

Tags: Basketball Louisville Cardinals Oregon Ducks

Comments are closed.