The Oregon Ducks are making a big push in the NCAA tournament, but they will have to play just as well as they have been against the Louisville Cardinals.
Despite only being a No. 12 seed, the Ducks have already won two games as underdogs against No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Saint Louis.
Now, the Ducks will have their toughest task in the Sweet 16 by playing the No. 1 overall seed Louisville Cardinals. It will be a very challenging game, but by focusing on several parts of their game, they can pull off yet another upset.
The Cardinals excel at forcing turnovers, and the Ducks must limit their mistakes at all costs.
As a team, the Ducks struggle at turning the ball over. They average 15 turnovers per game, one of the worst in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Cardinals force 18.9 turnovers per game, one of the best in the tournament.
As long as the Ducks limit their turnovers and keep the Cardinals from getting fast-break points, they can avoid the No. 1 seed pulling away, keeping the game close.
Get Gorgui Dieng in Foul Trouble
Gorgui Dieng is arguably the most dominating defensive player in the country, and the Ducks will need to get him out of the game in any way possible. The numbers for Dieng are frightening, as he averages 10.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.
While it’s a daunting task, the Ducks must drive at Dieng while drawing fouls. He averages 2.4 fouls per game, so he isn’t one to foul out often. However, in the team’s four losses—when Dieng is in the lineup—he averaged 3.25 fouls and fouled out twice.
Drawing fouls on Dieng early would be a huge advantage for the Ducks. It would open up the paint dramatically and give them better chances to score inside.
Second-chance points are a big momentum boost, and the Ducks must keep the Cardinals from gaining that kind of momentum.
The Cardinals do a great job of getting second-chance opportunities. They grab 13.6 offensive rebounds per game on average, and that can turn the tide of a close game. The Ducks aren’t the best team in the country at boxing out, allowing 9.6 offensive boards a game.
The Ducks must keep second-chance opportunities to a minimum in order to upset the Cardinals. The frontcourt is tremendous for the No. 1 overall seed, and keeping them off the glass will be ideal.
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