Duke plays Oregon on Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. It will be an unusual scene for a tournament game, with perennial power Duke entering as a slim underdog against an Oregon program with a lot less history.
But the Ducks are very good, playing the No. 4-seeded Blue Devils as the top team in the West Region. They also figure to have something of a home-court advantage in Anaheim, though Duke has a large basketball fan base and could bring a lot of blue to the Honda Center.
Duke had a reasonably fortunate path to the Sweet 16. It struggled but ultimately won cleanly against No. 13 UNC-Wilmington in the first round, then got a plum second-round win against a Cinderella, 12th-seeded Yale team playing without its expelled team captain. Duke didn't play especially well in either game, but here the Blue Devils are, anyway. Oregon, by a long shot, will be the best team Duke has played in the tournament.
Yet the same can be said on the other side. Oregon routed No. 16 Holy Cross in its first game, then got a handful from No. 8 Saint Joseph's in the second round. The Ducks have not played a team currently ranked in the top 20 of Ken Pomeroy's national index all season. Duke, ranked 19th, is the best opponent the Ducks have seen all season. This Blue Devils team bears relatively little resemblance to last year's national champion, but Duke is still highly dangerous.
On both sides, it's fair to expect a lot of points. Duke has the No. 4 offense in the country by adjusted efficiency, while Oregon's is ranked 11th. Neither defense places in the top 40 in the same statistic, and both teams should have a chance to run up a high score. It won't be a game for the faint-hearted — or for the tired, as it starts really late on the East Coast.
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
When: 9:55 p.m. ET
TV information: TBS
Online: NCAA March Madness Live
Radio: Westwood One