Sweet Sixteen: Oregon vs. Louisville, LukeRuss Oil Stadium
When the University of Louisville takes the court to face the Oregon Ducks in the Sweet Sixteen in Indianapolis on Friday, there will be much speculation as to whether the Cardinals can extend their tournament domination by beating up on the Ducks like they did the Aggies and Rams.
Of course, the team Rick Pitino & Co. will face is unlike the previous foes in rounds two and three; Oregon hails from a power conference whereas NC A&T and Colorado State hail from conferences which are not at the top of the college basketball food chain.
The Cardinals have made their way to the Sweet Sixteen by beating their opponents by an average of 28.5 points and shooting over 56 percent from the field. The Cardinals shot better from the charity stripe against Colorado State and scored 24 points off 20 Ram turnovers.
Enter the Ducks of Eugene. After defeating ranked UCLA in the PAC-12 conference title game, Oregon beat its first two opponents by 13 points (Oklahoma State) and 14 points (Saint Louis) by shooting over 45 percent from the field. One disparity jumps out when studying the statistics from the Ducks’ victories thus far – they shot 38 percent from behind the arc versus OK State and 72 percent against Saint Louis. This inconsistency from three-point range could murk the waters in the Round of 32.
However, when the casual observer looks further into both teams’ overall shooting percentages this season, the teams appear comparable. Louisville is shooting 44.5 percent from field goal range and Oregon is averaging 44.7 percent. Louisville is averaging 33.17 percent from behind the arc and Oregon is shooting 33.27 percent.
In a game where offensive statistics can tell a story of two similar teams, one must dig deeper to find a true winner on paper.
Horses and Hoops prediction: this game will come down to turnovers. Louisville committed 456 turnovers (12.6 per game) on the whole while Oregon turned the ball over 543 times (15 per game).
Guard play and defensive pressure will play pivotal roles in this matchup. With Louisville’s tendency to force more turnovers and to score lots of points off those errors, I expect the Cardinals to keep up the intensity and stifle the Oregon offense. Besides, the Big East was strides better than the PAC-12 in the 2012-13 season and these figures must be viewed in light of conference competition and defense.
My analysis hinges upon there being no hiccups or surprise injuries (knock on wood) in Friday’s matchup at 7:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Hopefully, Russ Arena’s furor and Luke Hancock’s consistency will travel with the Cardinals to Indianapolis and descend with the same intensity to create a LukeRuss Oil Stadium all clad in red.