|2.5 ORE (-115) @ Betvictor|
My 10* Sweet 16 Crusher is on Oregon at 9:45 ET.
The Pac-12 has been the 2021 NCAA tournament's best conference, by far. Five schools got Big Dance invites and FOUR made the Sweet 16. Pac 12 tourney winner Oregon St won again on Saturday and has become just the second No. 12 seed to reach the Elite 8 since seeding began back in 1979. UCLA (an 11-seed) has a tough matchup with No. 2 Alabama but at least TWO Pac 12 schools will advance to the Elite 8 as sixth-seeded USC (24-7) and seventh-seeded Oregon (21-6) will meet in a Sweet 16 game in the West Region on Saturday night in Indianapolis, The teams met just once in the regular season (another game didn't get played due to COVID-19 issues within the Ducks program) with the Trojans dominating 72-58 back on Feb 22 in Los Angeles. That was Oregon's only loss in its final 11 regular-season games, as the Ducks won the Pac 12's regular season title with a 14-4 record (USC was 15-5).
Dana Altman spent 16 seasons at Creighton and took the school to seven NCAA tourneys in his last 12 years at the school. He came to Oregon for the 2010-11 season and won the CBI championship in his first season. He's now in his 11th season in Eugene having won 20-plus games in each of his first 10, averaging 25.9 wins per year. Oregon had played in SIX of the last eight NCAA tourneys and it would have been seven if last season's year was not cut short (Ducks were 24-7). Oregon's back in the "Big Dance" again this season, advancing past the first round when VCU dropped out due to COVID-19 positive tests but then routed second-seeded Iowa 95-80 (shot 55.9% and assisted on 25 of 38 baskets).
The 6-6 Eugene Omoruyi, who sat out last year as a transfer from Rutgers is averaging 16.7 & 5.3. The 6-6 Figueroa transferred from St John's and adds 12.6 & 6.2 and the 6-6 Eric Williams (10.3 & 6.0) transferred from Duquesne. That trio gives Oregon a strong frontcourt, even with 6-11 center N'Faly Dante (8.2 & 5.8) suffering a torn ACL in mid-December (out for the season). 6-8 guard Duarte (17.0 & 4,6) was voted the Pac-12's player of the year and is now joined in the backcourt by PG Will Richardson, who is back from a left thumb injury suffered in the preseason. He's averaged 11.7-3.5-3.9 PPG in 15 games. Only Williams didn't score in double digits against Iowa, with Duarte leading the way with 23 points. Figueroa has been Oregon's best postseason player (three games), averaging 18.7 & 4.7, with Omoruyi adding 15.3 & 5.0.
Andy Enfield led Florida Gulf Coast to a 26-11 season in his second at the school, making a Sweet 16 appearance. That gave him the chance to "move on up" to USC but his first two seasons were HUGE disappointments (11-21 and 12-20). However, the Trojans won 21-plus games in FOUR of the last five seasons, including a 22-9 mark last season before the shut down. USC saw its top-five scorers leave after the 2020 season but here the Trojans are in the Sweet 16 with a 24-6 record. Enfield recruited a "super frosh" in 7-0 freshman Evan Mobley plus brought in SIX transfers. All Evan Mobley has done is average 16.5 & 8.8. He joined his brother Isaiah (a 6-10 sophomore), who has added 9.5 & 7.7. Peterson is a 6-8 swingman from Rice who averages 9.8 & 5.0 plus guards Eaddy (Santa Clara) and White, a grad transfer from Utah Valley St round out the starting-five. Eaddy averages 13.5 PPG and White 7.3. Guard Anderson (6.1) and the 6-9 Goodwin (6.0 & 3.6) contribute off the bench. Evan Mobley is averaging 19.8 & 10.5 and his brother Isaiah 12.8 & 6.3 in USC's four postseason games, while Eaddy (11.3-4.5-5.3) and Peterson (10.3 & 5.) have surely done their share.
I respect Enfield but Altman has just so much more experience. USC is playing in its first Sweet 16 since 2007, while Oregon has now reached the Sweet 16 in FOUR of the past five tournaments. In this battle of top-tier Pac 12 opponents, its Oregon which goes from 'Sweet' to 'Elite." Take any points available.