Can Duke's championship pedigree help them advance to the Final Four out of a loaded West Region?
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. Texas A&M defied logic, mathematics, hopelessness, history, and maybe even quantum physics just to make this Sweet 16, thanks to the most improbable (Really, the most improbable) double overtime victory ever against Northern Iowa. And Oklahoma is led by the nation’s best player and second-leading scorer, a player who is as easy to root for as he is to watch stroke a 25-foot jumper with a hand in his face.
No. 3 Texas A&M (28-8) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (27-7)
7:37 p.m. ET, TBS
No. 4 Duke (25-10) vs. No. 1 Oregon (30-6)
10:07 p.m. ET, TBS
Top Five Players
1. Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
2. Brandon Ingram G/F, Duke
3. Grayson Allen, G, Duke
4. Dillon Brooks, F, Oregon
5. Danuel House, G,Texas A&M
Top Dog — Oklahoma
The Sooners have the best chance of continuing this dance to Houston, because they have the best player in the country on their team — Buddy Hield. Hield exploded in the first two rounds of the Tournament, dropping 27 points on CSU Bakersfield, and 29 points against VCU — Sorry, that would be 29 points in the second half against VCU. Hield finished with 36, his third-best scoring outing this season. Hield has stolen the show all season as the second-leading scorer in the nation (25.0 ppg), but he has a balanced supporting cast featuring fellow sharpshooters Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard on the perimeter and Ryan Spangler in the post.
Underdog — Oregon
It’s like I said — Oregon may be one of the four No. 1 seeds in this Tournament, but few folks outside of Eugene claimed that this team was Final Four-worthy. The Ducks’ case for appreciation wasn’t helped by a lackluster performance by their fellow Pac-12 residents. But, I’m here to tell you: beware of Dana Altman’s Ducks.
The Ducks may not have any future NBA lottery picks like other squads in their region, but they have length, athleticism, and tenacity that other teams will envy. The Ducks haven’t lost in more than a month, and feature an extremely balanced offensive attack that is highlighted by sophomore forward Dillon Brooks.
Duke: Been There Done That
When it comes to NCAA Tournament experience, no other team in the nation quite compares to Duke. This trip to the Sweet 16 is the program's sixth in the last eight seasons. And if Duke just so happens to win on Thursday night against Oregon, the Blue Devils will be making their 21st Elite Eight appearance. Duke may not have the horses that it did in last season’s national championship run, but the presence of Coach K alone gives the Blue Devils another fantastic shot at another Final Four.
“One of the guys from VCU, I can’t remember…No. 5 was it? He was telling me, 'You the player of the year, you’re supposed to be going to work.' And I said, 'I’m about to go to work.'”
— Buddy Hield’s postgame comments to the reporters on as to what sparked his spectacular 29 point-second half performance vs. VCU on Saturday.