Like Wisconsin, Oregon missed the Big Dance last season, but Dana Altman's squad is back with a vengeance after winning the Pac-12 Tournament and thus securing that conference's automatic bid.
OR won its third Pac-12 tournament title in seven seasons.
Simply put, the Ducks are about as tough a 12-seed as you can draw, and the Badgers will have their work cut out for them to advance and play the victor of Kansas State/UC-Irvine on Sunday in San Jose. He had 12 points against Washington State, 20 versus the Utes, 19 against the Sun Devils and 15 versus the Huskies.
If Oregon wins, it will face the victor of the No. 4 seed Kansas State and No. 13 seed UC-Irvine on Sunday.
Over the course of an entire season, 46.1 percent field goal defense would rank almost 300th nationally. They're a No. 5 seed in the South Region in the 2019 field and will open against red-hot OR (23-12) on Friday at approximately 3:40 p.m.in San Jose, California. Wisconsin does only average a mere 9.5 turnovers per game (good for No. 5 nationally), but there have certainly been outliers sprinkled throughout the season.
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It's the preseason Pac-12 favorite vs. the regular-season Pac-12 champion for the Pac-12 tournament title on Saturday evening at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. "I was thinking about how this team is completely different and also I kind of can't remember what that mentality was back then". Campus is about a six-hour drive from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. "We enjoy playing tough and playing defense and rebounding".
It didn't exactly start off well for Oregon.
Jake: This will be the Ducks' fourth game in four days, including an overtime game Friday night, so they will be tired. OR now starts four forwards - all of whom are 6-foot-9 or taller - around junior guard Payton Pritchard. Wisconsin may be the best defensive team they have faced to this point, but OR just dispatched of a very good Washington squad in the Pac-12 championship that also happens to boast a tough defense (No. 20 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom).
Arizona State, which was the second seed in the Pac-12 tournament, will have to play in one of two "First Four" games in Dayton, Ohio.
In addition, OR also excels at turning opponents over, ranking No. 21 in the country in steals. Wade is their second-leading scorer, averaging 12.9 points a game.
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Those individual improvements were the results of better communication across the entire team on defense.
"In my 39 years in coaching, I've never seen a team grow up that much that fast", OR coach Dana Altman said. "So our matchup (zone) is a little different. But in order to take that next jump, to play deep into the tournament, we've got to become more consistent and eliminate those blips on both ends of the floor". Watching film in so many games you could just tell they weren't talking because we'd have two guys going to make the same play, leaving somebody wide open. Uncontested shots were killing us. They have not shot 40 percent from beyond the arc in any game during that. We didn't hide. We didn't run.
"I thought we got decent shots". We got to talk, we got to anticipate.
"It has really picked up". This will be a contrast of styles, as the Huskies run a Syracuse-type zone, relying on their defense to carry them.
"Communication is definitely way better", Amin said. "We'll play any place, any time, anywhere".
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