3Few could have possibly predicted that three double-digit seeds would reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Amazingly, each has a chance of advancing.
While there are surprising events in every tournament, it is clear that the committee misjudged a few teams on Selection Sunday.
Oregon has been dominant in wins over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis despite being a No. 12 seed. No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast has become a new fan favorite after fans watched the team dunk its way to wins over Georgetown and San Diego State.
While La Salle had closer games, beating Kansas State and Ole Miss by a combined four points, all wins count the same at this time of year.
Still, it will not be easy for any of these squads to reach the Elite Eight. In order to win the next game, the teams must follow these keys to victory.
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 1 Louisville
The Ducks have the toughest road for any of the Cinderella teams remaining. In the next matchup, they must try to beat No. 1 overall seed Louisville, a squad that has not lost in its last 12 games.
However, that does not mean that the Cardinals are unbeatable. Louisville has struggled against teams that shoot well from outside and defend the three. Syracuse was able to do that three times, although the Orange only got one win and two close losses out of it.
Oregon does not have any consistent threats from the outside, but the 8-for-11 against Saint Louis can definitely carry over.
Still, the game will come down to one thing: turnovers. The Ducks were last in the Pac-12 in giveaways with 14.9 per game, and they have lost 18 in each game of the tournament.
If they are not careful with the ball, Louisville will force upwards of 20 and it will not matter how well Oregon shoots.
The Ducks must be smart throughout the game and make sure they take care of the basketball at all times.
No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 9 Wichita State
Wichita State is one of the most versatile teams in the country.
In the upset over Gonzaga, the Shockers used great outside shooting to simply outscore the top seed, hitting 14-of-28 shots from three-point range. When that was not helping against Pittsburgh in the first game (2-of-20 behind the arc), they were physical inside and scored in that way.
This will make it tough for La Salle to defend. However, the Explorers have to play to their own strength and against their opponent. They must prevent Wichita State from getting into the paint, forcing the squad to beat them with outside shots.
Obviously, this plan did not work out well for Gonzaga, but it is unlikely the team that shot 33.7 percent from deep this year will be able to replicate that type of display.
In addition, La Salle must be very aggressive offensively. The trio of quick guards (Ramon Galloway, Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland) must keep the pace fast while consistently driving to the basket.
Whether the players score at the rim or on the free-throw line after taking a foul, it will lead to good things for the Explorers.
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 3 Florida
It might be a cliche, but having the right attitude goes a long way. It is obvious that Florida Gulf Coast has been having a lot of fun over the past week, and that must continue into the next round.
Stuff like this certainly does not hurt:
On the court, however, matching up with Florida is not an easy task. The Gators have a better offense than the No. 15 seed has seen in two rounds so far, and it features plenty of balance with five players averaging at least nine points per game.
The key for Florida Gulf Coast will be rebounding on both ends of the court. Florida will make teams pay if the team gets second and third chances on offense, so the Eagles have to make sure to limit possessions to one shot.
On offense, the Eagles have to do the same thing by creating easy chances for themselves. Minnesota was able to cut into Florida's lead last round thanks in part to 11 offensive rebounds. In the team's last loss to Ole Miss, the Gators were out-rebounded 37-30 for the game.
Finally, Florida Gulf Coast cannot let its opponent control the pace. The squad has been successful by moving quickly up and down the court, utilizing Brett Comer's vision and the team's athleticism to get easy points.
As soon as the Eagles get the ball, they must look to score within the first few seconds of the shot clock.
If they can do that, they will be able to survive yet another round of the NCAA tournament.
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