Oregon (15-8, 10-7) scored a huge win this week when the Ducks took down Georgia in grind-it-out fashion 57-50. The next item on the Duck's agenda is a Sweet 16 matchup with ACC Champion Louisville (25-3, 14-2).
Louisville has won five of its last seven games, dropping a close one 58-56 to the North Carolina State in the ACC tournament championship. The Wolfpack was ranked No. 4 in the country at the time and is the most noteworthy matchup on Louisville's resume.
The Cardinals are a tier above the rest when it comes to offensive output, scoring 77.9 points per game and outscoring their opponents by an average of 17.1 points. If you examine the team's schedule, there are some huge blowout wins: 116-75 over then No. 20 DePaul, 70-45 over Clemson, and 97-68 over Boston College.
Wooden Award finalist and Sports Illustrated All-American guard Dana Evans is the biggest name to know for this team. She's scoring at a blistering pace, averaging an almost unheard of 19.6 points per game. Evans has racked up 549 points this season for the Cardinals--the next closest player on the roster has 320 points.
Three of the remaining four starters are double digit scorers: Kianna Smith (11.5 PPG), Hailey Van Lith (11.4 PPG), Olivia Cochran (10.4 PPG). For as dangerous as their offense is, the Cardinals defense surrenders a decent amount of points--with opponents averaging 60.8 points per game.
The defense averages 7.6 steals per game and 4.9 blocks, so the Ducks will need to prioritize minimizing turnovers. They had 23 against South Dakota but were still able to come away with a win.
As for Oregon, it looks like the Ducks have found their identity, playing through bigs Nyara Sabally and Sedona Prince. With the older Sabally (Satou) moving on to the WNBA, Graves may have expected to be a bit more reliant on guards this season.
With Te-Hina Paopao expected to miss another game, the offense has adjusted to take more of an inside-out approach. Prince and Sabally have scored a combined 66 points in the tournament and their size makes the offense very difficult to defend.
Erin Boley has emerged as a potent scorer in the latter half of the season, turning in 22 points against South Dakota. Her shooting range, combined with her physicality inside make her a threat to score at any moment.
REPORT: Eugene Omoruyi Signs with Dallas Mavericks
The Ducks forward has agreed to a two-way contract as an undrafted free agent.
The Ducks are averaging 72.1 points per game, while allowing 59.6 points per game to their opponents. A roster filled with 5-star youth had high expectations entering the season, but a turbulent stretch to finish Pac-12 play left something to be desired.
Kelly Graves' team is playing with something to prove, and look to secure another statement win this weekend in what is turning out to be an impressive NCAA tournament run.
Oregon faces Louisville on March 28 at 4:00 p.m. PST on ESPN.
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