If you have read anything about this game on sports sites, then you have heard how Oregon doesn’t stand a chance… how Louisville is the best team in the nation… how Oregon can’t match up with any of their players. To this I say…blah!, and you should too. If the Ducks proved anything this year, it is that they can play with any team in the nation.
I will hand it to Louisville, though. They are the hottest team in the nation, and overall one of the most dominant teams. Their defense is off the charts – see 23.2 points per game scored off turnovers. Turnovers is an area where Oregon struggled this season and will need to get it together to have a chance. Oregon is 20th in the nation in rebounding margin per game and must continue this trend to win.
Oregon will need great defense in the paint to advance. Louisville has averaged 43 points per game in the paint this tournament, and that is more than half of their points. The Ducks will have their hands full with Russ Smith (who averages 18.4 points per game) and Gorgui Dieng. Dieng, a mirror image of our own Arsalan Kazemi, averages 10 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
To advance, the Ducks will need to be perfect in all facets of their game. They HAVE to limit the turnovers and points off them. They HAVE to continue to be a great rebounding team. They HAVE to operate in a great zone defense in order to neutralize the Cardinals’ scorers. I don’t see a man defense cutting it, as they will need help to cover the paint. Oregon will need Damyean Dotson to continue scoring well, will need Kazemi to crash the boards harder than ever, will need great play from the guard position to beat the press, and will need clutch plays from their veterans.
Also, Louisville is on a 12 game winning streak. I am a firm believer that long streaks can actually work against a team. Eventually they will lose, and the chances of a team winning so much can get into the heads of the players – knowing that sooner or later they will lose. More than likely they will fall victim to a team they don’t expect to lose to, one that is supposedly way overmatched. I believe Oregon is this team.
While that sounds like a lot, I know the Ducks have it in them to shock the nation once again. It will be tough – the toughest test of the season so far – but I have faith in my fine feathered friends, and you should too!
To watch the game, tune in to CBS at 4:15 PDT.