Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns

Midwest Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown
#1 Kansas vs. #3 Oregon
Kansas is on an absolute tear in the NCAA tournament so far, winning their first three games by margins of 38, 20 and 32. The Jayhawks are clicking on all cylinders offensively, shooting over 50 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three as a team in the tournament. Senior point guard Frank Mason is averaging over 20 points per game on the season and he has been dominant so far in the tournament. Mason put together his best performance against Purdue in the Sweet 16, scoring 26 points on 9-11 shooting, including 4-5 from three point range, to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists. Trying to slow down Mason is a tough task for any opponent, but when his backcourt partner Devonte’ Graham plays well alongside him, the Jayhawks look nearly unstoppable. Graham, who averages just under 14 points per game, has stepped up his game in the tournament, where he is averaging 20 points per game. The junior put together his best performance against Purdue in the Sweet 16, scoring a season high 26 points. With Mason being the focal point of an opponents’ defensive plan, Graham has gotten a lot of open looks from three point range so far in the tournament and the junior has been knocking down the shots at a very high rate. So far in the tournament, Graham is shooting just under 60 percent from deep, 13-22, and has hit at least four threes in each contest. If Graham can keep up the hot shooting, the Jayhawks will be tough to stop.
Oregon is a perimeter-oriented team, so on paper they seem to match up well with the Jayhawks. The Ducks have a star guard in their own right in Tyler Dorsey. The sophomore has elevated his game so far in the tournament, averaging over 23 points per game and has been on fire from deep, hitting 11 of his 16 three point attempts. Dorsey has also drawn the assignment of guarding the opponents top guard and should matchup with Mason in this game. While Dorsey’s offense has been key so far for the Ducks, his defense will be very important in this one, as stopping Mason is the key to slowing Kansas down. Senior Dylan Ennis has played at least 36 minutes in each of the Ducks three tournament games, and is the likely candidate to matchup with Graham. The key for Ennis will be getting going offensively though. The senior averages over 10 points per game on the season, but has struggled in the tournament, averaging just over seven points per game. The Ducks will need Ennis to be more effective offensively in this one if they have a chance for the upset.
While the matchup at guard draws a lot of headlines due to Mason, Graham and Dorsey’s play, the frontcourt has a pair of interesting matchups as well. The most intriguing will be Oregon forward Dylan Brooks, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, against Kansas forward Josh Jackson, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a projected lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft. Brooks is the catalyst for Oregon, leading the team with in scoring with an average of just over 16 points per game. Like Dorsey though, his offense isn’t the most important aspect of his game in this one, as slowing down Jackson is a tough task. Jackson is a dynamic player with athleticism matched by very few college players and features a truly diverse game. The freshman has shown the ability to shoot consistently from deep, as well as take defenders off the dribble and finish above the rim. Brooks will have his hands full with this matchup. The Jayhawks might have the advantage with Jackson, but Oregon will have the advantage in the post. Junior forward Jordan Bell gave Michigan fits in the Ducks Sweet 16 win, posting a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and will be a tough matchup for Kansas due to his athleticism. The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Bell shut down Michigan’s Moritz Wagner and will get a matchup with Kansas’s Landen Lucas next. Lucas isn’t a big offensive threat for the Jayhawks, serving mostly as a secondary option to Mason, Graham and Jackson, but the senior makes the most of his opportunities, shooting over 60 percent from the floor on the season. His matchup with Bell will be difficult though, as Bell’s athleticism has the potential to limit Lucas’ looks inside. Bell was especially active on the offensive glass in the Ducks win over Michigan, grabbing a pair of offensive boards late that sealed the game. Lucas will need to know where Bell is at all times in this contest.
Looking at Kansas’s schedule this season, one team that the Jayhawks struggled with was Iowa State, a team that is very similar to Oregon. Both teams feature a four man perimeter look and that caused a lot of problems for Kansas. Iowa State was one of just four teams to beat the Jayhawks this season. Oregon doesn’t have the same point guard play as Iowa State had, the Cyclones Monte Morris led the country in assist to turnover ratio, but the Ducks have an advantage inside. Both Brooks and Bell are an upgrade on the Cyclones frontcourt, and have the ability to cause problems for Kansas. This game will come down to guard play though and Kansas has the edge there. The experienced backcourt of the Jayhawks should be enough for Kansas to pull out a win in and advance to the Final Four, but don’t be surprised if Oregon keeps it close.