Virginia is finally living up to expectations in the postseason. Can the Cavaliers keep it going while facing an Oregon team that is embracing a rare underdog role? That's a question that doesn't offer an easy answer.
Seeds can be deceiving when it comes to Oregon and UC Irvine. Both teams entered the NCAA Tournament as double-digit seeds, but they are much stronger than those seeds. It sets up for what could be a memorable second-round clash on Sunday.
Oregon made an unexpected run through the Pac-12 Tournament, winning four games in four days, just to get into the field. The 12th-seeded Ducks haven't stopped flying high. They dominated No. 5 seed Wisconsin and pulled away for a 72-54 victory. Oregon stifled the Badgers on the perimeter to pull away after halftime.
Oregon is looking at a second straight rebuilding season, having followed up 2017’s Final Four run by settling for the NIT. But this isn’t last season’s cobbled-together roster of freshmen who weren’t quite ready for prime time and graduate transfers looking to shine in greener pastures. The Ducks signed a top-five recruiting class built around five-star center Bol Bol and are expected to get back into contention for a Pac-12 title, and another extended run in March.
The West Region of this year’s Sweet 16 definitely isn’t hurting for storylines. Duke is college basketball royalty with a king for a coach looking another Final Four appearance. Oregon, the No. 1 seed, is still fighting for respect outside of the paper tiger that is the Pac-12.
The first week of the NCAA Tournament has come and gone, and we have cut down the field to the Sweet 16. Northern Iowa, Stephen F. Austin and Middle Tennessee tried their best to play the role of Cinderella, but the clock has struck midnight on the mid-majors, as the Sweet 16 has turned into a battle of the college basketball big boys — including a record six ACC teams.