The more alluring of Saturday's NCAA Tournament matchups features an Oregon team making its first Final Four appearance since 1939, against the team with the most Final Four appearances ever (20) in North Carolina. The Ducks are flying high after an impressive trouncing of Kansas and now face another one of college basketball's legendary powerhouses, who are freshoff an emotional battle with Kentucky .
Key to the Matchup —UNC
North Carolina will be in great shape to winif they sink their 3s. Yes, that sentence can be said about many teams. But with UNC, the differential has been exceptionally drastic:The Tarheels have shot an ugly 28.9 percent from deep in their seven losses this season, compared to 37.7 percent in wins. UNC was26-1 this season when hitting at least 35 percent of their long-range attempts, compared to 5-6 when shooting below that mark.
Oregon has allowed a 31.1 percent clip from deep thisseason, good for eighth among major conference teams.That number has held strong at 30.8 percent in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks held Kansas —whichcame into the game with the country’s sixth-best 3-point percentage (40.4) — to just 5 of 25 from behind the arc.
Key to the Matchup — Oregon
Jordan Bell is the only Ducks player over 6-5 playing more than 11 minutes per game in the tournament, with second-leading rebounder Chris Boucher out for the season. That makes the factthat Oregon has managed to convincingly out-rebound opponents in all four of its games (plus-34 total) even more impressive. It’s also important, considering the Ducks are 23-1 this season when securing more boards than their opponent, comparedto 8-4 when they lose the rebound battle.
Now comes the ultimate testagainst a team that plays five guys who are at least Bell’s height of 6-7. North Carolina’s rebound differential of plus-13 per game is the best of any team since Michigan State in 2001 (with Zach Randolph and Jason Richardson). Further context to illustrate that dominance: No major conference team has had a rebounding margin above plus-11.4 over the last 15 years. Bell will need yet another Herculean performance to keep Oregon in this one. His 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game in the tournament suggests he’s capable.
Key Performer — North Carolina
Justin Jackson has taken his performance to another level in mid-Marchafter hitting a recent rough patch: In the 10 games prior to the tournament, the juniorshot just 40.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. But the ACC Player of the Year has regained the stroke over the last four games, sinking 11 of 27 3s (40.7 percent) with a strongeffectivefield goal percentage (which adjusts for 3s) of 55.6. Jackson hasstepped up his overall game as well, posting 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals, in the tourney compared to 4.6, 2.3 and 0.4, respectively, during conference play. With Joel Berry II hobbled , the Tarheels will have to lean even more on their star small forward.
Key Performer —Oregon
It’s tough to understate just how amazing Tyler Dorsey has been in tournament play. He has made 17 of his 25 2-point attempts and 17 of 26 3-point attempts, which equates to an absurd 83.3 effective field goal percentage (eFG%). As it stands now, Dorsey has the highest eFG% percentage in the last 20NCAA Tournaments for anyone who attempted at least 30 shots. Speaking more traditionally, the sophmore guard's 66.7 conventional field goal percentage is currently the highest of any guard over the last 20 tournaments. He's pouring in 24.5 points per game, which would be even more impressive if he wasn’t oddly struggling from the free throw line, shooting under 62 percent. The latter number could be pivotal late in this game.
Key NCAA Tournament Stats – North Carolina
Points Scored Per Game: 85.5
Field Goal Pct: 47.4
3-Point Pct: 32.1
Points Allowed Per Game: 70.5
Opponent Field Goal Pct: 41.3
Opponent 3-Point Pct: 31.6
Joel Berry II, G: 12.5 PPG, 2.8 APG, 32.6 FG%
Theo Pinson, G: 4.8 PPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG
Justin Jackson, F: 19.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG
Isaiah Hicks, F: 9.8 PPG, 1.3 BPG, 55.2 FG%
Kennedy Meeks, C: 10.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG
UNC Key Reserves
Nate Britt, G: 5.3 PPG, 2.8 APG, 33.3 3P%
Luke Maye, F: 12.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG,45.5 3P%
Tony Bradley, C: 6.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 80.0 FG%
Key NCAA Tournament Stats - Oregon
Points Scored Per Game: 77.8
Field Goal Pct: 50.0
3-Point Pct: 43.2
Points Allowed Per Game: 69.3
Opponent Field Goal Pct: 43.2
Opponent 3-Point Pct: 30.8
Payton Pritchard, G: 7.0 PPG, 2.3 APG, 1.5 SPG
Dylan Ennis, G: 8.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, 25.0 3P%
Tyler Dorsey, G: 24.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 65.4 3P%
Dillon Brooks, F: 16.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG
Jordan Bell, C: 12.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG
Oregon Key Reserves
Casey Benson, G: 5.5 PPG, 1.3 SPG, 28.6 3P%
Kavell Bigby-Williams, C: 2.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 33.3 FG%