Virginia vs Oregon : the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the No. 12-seeded Oregon Ducks, clash with the top-seed Virginia Cavaliers in the Sweet 16. Thursday’s tipoff from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville is scheduled for 9:59 p.m. ET.
Despite a short scare during the first half of their first round matchup against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb, No. 1 seed Virginia picked up two wins during the first weekend of the 2019 NCAA Tournament to earn a trip to the Sweet 16. Now, the Cavaliers will look to continue their journey toward a National Championship against the No. 12 seeded Oregon Ducks.
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For Virginia, a halftime deficit against Gardner-Webb in the South Region round of 64 game had many feeling like they were experiencing deja vu dating back to last years shocking loss to UMBC. However, the Cavaliers soon returned to form to defeat the Runnin’ Bulldogs 71-56. Virginia then followed that up with a 63-51 win over No. 9 Oklahoma to advance to the Sweet 16.
The common theme in both of Virginia’s NCAA Tournament victories was defense, something that should come as no surprise following the Cavaliers dominant performance on that end of the floor all season long. Holding opponents to around 55 ppg entering the tournament, Virginia continues to stifle offenses.
Now, they’ll face one of the hottest offenses, and teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament. After upsetting their way to a Pac-12 Tournament championship and an automatic bid, the No. 12 Oregon Ducks find themselves as the only double-digit seed remaining in the dance. Oregon picked up dominating wins over No. 5 Wisconsin 72-54 and No. 13 UC Irvine 73-54 to advance to the second weekend.
With length and a balanced scoring attack led by Payton Pritchard and Louis King, Oregon has the recipe to contend with one of the top teams left in this year’s tournament.If you just look at the remaining seeds, you could argue we have the 15 best teams in the country left and an ugly duckling in Oregon — the sole remaining team seeded lower than 5. Except there’s nothing ugly about how the 12-seed Ducks are playing right now.
Winners of 10 straight over the past 30 days, Oregon is as hot as any team in the country.That said, Virginia represents a different type of challenge, a major step-up in competition. Can the Ducks keep their run going against a No. 1 seed — and if not, can they at least keep it close enough to cover? Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.The Ducks have been on a quite a run and they’ve been doing it with defense first. Headed into the tournament, they had the most efficient defense in the month of March.
Dana Altman’s club runs a morphing matchup zone that forces teams to work deep into the shot clock and ideally take a low-percentage jumper. It’s a very complex defense that requires everyone on the floor to be on the same page.
Well, Virginia will have no problems working hard (and long) for a look late in the shot clock. The Cavaliers run a motion offense with relentless screening to tirelessly work for the best possible shot. Their offense ranks 351st in Average Possession Length, per KenPom.
The Ducks also force opponents to shoot a ton of 3s, as evidenced by their extremely high 45.1% opponent 3-point rate. In fact, only Virginia Tech forces opponents to shoot more from beyond the arc among all tournament teams. Well, that’s not ideal against a flame-throwing UVA squad that shot better than 40% from deep on the season.
Yes, Oregon’s defense has allowed a 3-point rate of only 29.1%, the sixth-best in the nation. But I think the Ducks have been getting lucky in that department: Elite 3-point defense has not historically been a staple of an Altman defense.
Virginia’s experienced and patient offense is a well-oiled machine that neither man nor zone has been able to slow down this season. The Cavaliers should find the success against Oregon’s D that so many teams have failed to do in March.