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April 30 2017, 06:44 | Van Peters
March Madness: Pair of Canadians lead Oregon to Elite 8
In their way stands arguably the hottest team in the nation right now, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Oregon's transformation has been similarly mesmerizing, if compressed into a tighter timeline.
Hebard has been a mainstay for this OR team all year long and was again Saturday as the Ducks frustrated the high-scoring Terps.
On Sunday, the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels vie for their second SU win in six dates with No. 2 Kentucky when they face the Wildcats in South Region action as three-point favorites, while No. 7 SC continues its improbable tournament run in an East Region clash with No. 4 Florida as 3 1/2-point favorites.
Oregon: This is the Duck's longest-ever run through the NCAA Tournament. One such period of stagnation against Iona allowed the Gaels to shoot their way back into competition.
Though the Ducks (32-5) led for most of the game, MI had all of the momentum after coming back to take a three-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Heading the charge on offense for OR are Dillon Brooks (16.4 PPG; 3.1 RPG), Tyler Dorsey (14.0 PPG; 3.4 RPG) and Chris Boucher (11.8 PPG; 6.1 RPG).
Kansas has not faced OR since the 2003 regular season, winning 77-67 but falling just short of covering the spread as 10.5-point home chalk. That, in turn, can spread the Kansas defense out.
Sprint Center is less than an hour's drive from Lawrence, Kan., the home of the Jayhawks, so the arena will be filled with Kansas fans.
Dorsey's offensive output in the tournament has been impressive, but it's the way he goes about getting buckets that makes it even better.
Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson added 24 as top-seeded North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight with a 92-80 victory over Butler in the NCAA South Region on Friday night.
Bill Self and Dana Altman first matched wits more than two decades ago, when Self was trying to turn around tiny Oral Roberts and Altman was attempting the same in his first season at Creighton.
The matchup problems Mason creates dictates how Kansas can attack otherwise. Kansas' front court became Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur - stronger, faster and more athletic. The Ducks are quite experienced with juniors Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell leading the way. That puts the onus on Mason to create off the dribble. And when starting center Landen Lucas has been in foul trouble, opponents have been able to attack backups Carlton Bragg Jr. and Dwight Coleby with a bit more success.
The Oregon freshmen are still on East Coast time.
Few teams in college basketball match Oregon's sheer versatility. And it could continue on; Kansas looks a little better in every spot.
"This is the best time of the year to be at your best", Dorsey said. If they accomplish their goal Saturday, it will be the Ducks' first Final Four since the very first NCAA Tournament in 1939, when the Ducks won their only title.