Three No. 1 seeds reached the Elite 8, with top overall seed Villanova as the lone No. 1 to fail to reach the second weekend of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. But on Saturday night, a second top seed went down when No. 3 Oregon dominated Kansas, 74-60, to earn their first Final Four trip since 1939.
Oregon took control of the game early and never relinquished it, as the Jayhawks could never trim the Ducks second half lead to fewer than six points. Oregon was led by Tyler Dorsey on the offensive end and Jordan Bell on the defensive end in a dominant two-way performance from the Ducks. Dorsey continued to be the Ducks’ best offensive weapon of the tournament as he shot the lights out, going 9-for-13 from the field for 27 points.
However, Dorsey’s incredible offensive output may have been bested by his teammate’s effort on the glass and defending the rim. Bell had 11 points, 13 rebounds and a ridiculous eight blocks as he deterred the Jayhawks from attacking the rim. With the lane shut down by Bell, Kansas struggled to find an offensive rhythm, shooting 35 percent from the field and only 20 percent from three-point range (5-for-25).
Kansas had looked like a Final Four lock in their first three games, but with Josh Jackson going cold on Saturday night and Frank Mason Jr. struggling from long range despite a 21-point performance, the Jayhawks weren’t able to keep pace with the red-hot Ducks. It’s now Oregon that appears to be the team to beat after they vanquished Kansas with apparent ease, as the Ducks have lost once in their last 13 games.
Oregon was a team many thought could be a top seed for much of this season, but not many gave them much of a chance for a deep tournament run after the season-ending knee injury suffered by big man Chris Boucher. However, on Saturday night, we saw what the Ducks are capable at their peak on both ends of the floor even in Boucher’s absence.
The Ducks might just be the best team in America right now, and they proved that they aren’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a blue-blood program that boasts NBA-caliber talent on its roster. That’s good, because they’ll run into a similar squad soon – the Ducks are staring down a matchup with either No. 1 North Carolina or No. 2 Kentucky in the Final Four.