Tonight, the No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks will face off against the No. 4 seed Duke Blue Devils with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. According to the odds, Oregon is favored by three points tonight. However, the Blue Devils have been a popular pick to knock the Ducks out of the tournament, according to some experts. Here's your game preview for tonight's Sweet 16 matchup.
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The Ducks are coming off a hard-fought win against St. Joseph's in the Round of 32. Against the Hawks, it looked as though Oregon's season might come to a disappointing end, but the Ducks pulled out a gutsy win. St. Joseph's led 58-51 with five and a half minutes to go, but the Ducks responded with a 7-0 to tie the game with less than three minutes to go. The Ducks held off St. Joseph's for the final minute, pulling away for the 69-64 win.
This is just the second time ever that Oregon and Duke will face each other. The last time was back on November 27, 2010 when the Ducks and Blue Devils squared off at the Moda Center in Portland. The Blue Devils crushed Oregon in that game 98-71 thanks to 30 points from Kyle Singler. That was a whole different team though, and I doubt the Ducks have given any thought to that game six years ago.
This is Oregon's second trip to the Sweet 16 in the last four years. It is also their fifth trip in school history. By getting here, the Ducks became just one of five teams in the nation to win a game in each NCAA tournament over the past four years. The others are Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina and Wichita State.
The Duke Blue Devils are coming off a 71-64 win over the Yale Bulldogs in the Round of 32. The Blue Devils haven't had an easy win in this tournament, having to fend off UNC-Willmington in the Round of 64. This marks the third time in four years the Blue Devils have reached the Sweet 16. Of course, last year Duke went on to win the national championship. This is also Duke's 15th Sweet 16 appearance since 1998, the most in the nation.
The Blue Devils have had some success against the top seeds in the tournament. Since 1979 when the NCAA tournament began seeding, Duke is 9-5 against No. 1 seeds. Their last win against a No. 1 seed came last year when they defeated Wisconsin Badgers in the national championship game.
One matchup that should be interesting to watch is to see who will be able to stop Marshall Plumlee. While Plumlee is only averaging just over eight points per game, he makes an impact that is impossible to ignore. His size will also be a problem as Plumlee comes in at seven feet tall and 250 pounds. Oregon's starting center, Chris Boucher is 6'10'' and only 190 pounds. It could be a night for someone else to come off the bench and step up (looking at you, Jordan Bell).