Virginia vs Oregon! There are those who become impatient with Virginia’s overwhelming regular season success and lack of postseason excellence to accompany it.
In fact, some of Virginia’s teams since its 2014 breakthrough have not been ideally constructed to succeed in the NCAA Tournament. This one is.
These Cavaliers have one of the top NBA prospects in college basketball, sophomore wing De’Andre Hunter, as well as a skilled veteran backcourt and a powerful, deep frontcourt. They are great at both offense and defense, not just the latter.
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They even get the only remaining double-digit seed in the field, the Oregon Ducks, for their round of 16 matchup.
It could not line up better for them. But this is still the NCAA tournament, and elimination is still only 40 minutes away for everyone involved.
Oregon, No. 12 seed
Coach: Dana Altman (30 years, nine at Oregon
Overall record: 25-12
Scoring leader: Louis King (13.4 ppg)
Rebounding leader (King 5.6 rpg)
Assists leader: Payton Pritchard (4.6 apg)
Famous non-athlete alum: Actor Ty Burrell
Virginia, No. 1 seed
Coach: Tony Bennett (13 years, 10 at Virginia)
Overall record: 31-3
Scoring leader: De’Andre Hunter (15.2 ppg)
Rebounding leader: Braxton Key, (5.5 rpg)
Assists leader: Ty Jerome (5.3 apg)
Famous non-athlete alum: Actress Tina Fey
Best individual matchup
Hunter vs. King. Hunter has blossomed into one of the most dynamic and versatile players in college basketball. King was an elite recruit who has developed into a highly productive freshman. King is two inches taller at 6-9, and he is deployed mostly in a matchup-zone type of defense. But it’s likely Hunter will be handed the assignment of containing King, who has scored in double figures in every March elimination game the Ducks have played. King is 15 of 30 from long distance in those games and went 32 minutes or more in the past five. Hunter has become a more featured part of UVA’s balanced offense as well, with five 20-point games over the past 12.
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Most eye-popping stat
Virginia ranks 353rd in tempo among Division I teams, according to KenPom.com. That’s out of 353 teams. The Cavaliers average 71.6 points per game because they are highly efficient when in possession of the ball. They are the second-most efficient offense, behind Gonzaga, which by the way, ranks first among all teams in tempo.
Virginia wins if …
The Cavaliers can find a workable solution for the Oregon zone, which has produced victories in 10 consecutive games and has held three straight opponents to 54 points or fewer. Virginia has the shooters and the patience to find its way through.
Oregon wins if …
The dynamism of King and 6-9 Kenny Wooten causes UVA more problems than anticipated. Virginia is a very capable offensive team but did have some problems against the electric athletes deployed by Duke. Are we comparing Oregon in anyway to Duke? Well, just one way. And no, King is not Zion Williamson or even RJ Barrett. But if you’re trying to concoct a scenario in which the Ducks might find a way to pull this out, the Ducks’ length and quickness would certainly be a prominent aspect of that.