While everyone knew the No. 3-seeded Oregon Ducks were a terrific team, the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks entered Saturday night’s Elite Eight contest as the clear favorite after they absolutely annihilated Purdue 98-66 in the Sweet 16. Most experts even considered Kansas to be the best team remaining in the tournament. And then factor in that Saturday night’s game was in Kansas City, making it basically a home game for the Jayhawks.
Well, clearly none of that mattered to Oregon. The Ducks went into the Sprint Center and put together a brilliant effort to stomp the Jayhawks 74-60, and are now going to the Final Four for the first time since 1939.
Oregon got the big nights they needed from their best players, with Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks, and Jordan Bell filling up the box score and making huge plays on both sides of the ball.
Dorsey, a sophomore guard, went off for 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Reggie Miller called Dorsey “Mr. March” several times in the game, and — while it got to be a bit much — it’s hard to argue with Miller’s assessment given that Dorsey has scored at least 20 points in his last seven games.
Brooks was the PAC-12 Player of the Year, and hit a variety of difficult shots — as he usually does — on his way to a 17-point night.
But if you asked Kansas head coach Bill Self, he’d probably point to the dominating performance of Bell that was really the difference in this game. Bell owned the paint, and nearly pulled off a triple-double in unique fashion: 11 points (5-of-6 from the field), 13 rebounds, and eight blocks. He looked like Ben Wallace in his prime and the Kansas bigs had no answer for him.
If this trio of players can play anything like they did on Saturday night, Oregon is going to be incredibly difficult to beat. Of course, we said the same thing about the Jayhawks coming into tonight’s game, and we’re saying the same thing about Gonzaga (off to their first Final Four) right now. And that’s what makes it all so interesting!