We've reached the portion of the schedule where the hype around the tournament begins to wane and the true fans are once again the driving force behind college basketball. Thankfully, those fans are rewarded tonight with two incredible matchups. Both games feature explosive offenses and household names. Best of all, at least on some level, the Big East is still alive and dancing.
|(1) Oregon Ducks vs. (2) Oklahoma Sooners||6:09pm ET||CBS||NCAA.com & March Madness Live app||Verne Lundquist / Jim Spanarkel // Allie LaForce|
|(1) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (2) Villanova Wildcats||8:49pm ET||CBS||NCAA.com & March Madness Live app||Jim Nantz / Grant Hill / Bill Raftery // Tracy Wolfson|
Oregon v. Oklahoma
This basically comes down to whether the Ducks are athletic enough to run Buddy Hield and Co. off the three point line and not get gashed inside after that. Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell have the two highest blocked shot seasons in Oregon history and both will be on the court tonight. Boucher blocked and unholy 12.2% of opponent's attempts while he played this year. For offense, Coach K's favorite player, Dillon Brooks, finally gets a chance to play multiple games when people will be awake to see him.
On the other side, it's Buddy Hield and and his three jacking teammates. The Sooners are going to have to score from outside tonight, but that isn't likely to bother them in the slightest. Hield, Isaiah Cousins, and Jordan Woodard all shoot over 42% from deep in over 145 attempts on the year. This game could challenge 200 points scored if both offenses well and truly get rolling.
Villanova v. Kansas
Here's a shocker: one of these two teams is not going to be able to avoid making the Final Four this year. Kansas and Nova have both swooned early recently, but now they are in the position where one of them will have to advance. I think. Maybe they'll both lose.
Nova is going to do what Nova does and space the floor and try to score from deep or with Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins off the bounce. Kansas doesn't allow a lot of three point attempts or a particularly high success rate on those attempts. On defense, Nova is going to have to keep Ochefu out of foul trouble and figure out who they have that can stay in front of Wayne Selden. I'm not certain they can do it.