UC Irvine vs Oregon College Basketball Betting Lines, Spread, Odds and Prop Bets for NCAA Tournament – The Duel

UC Irvine vs Oregon College Basketball Betting Lines, Spread, Odds and Prop Bets for NCAA Tournament - The Duel
Canzano: Oregon Ducks coach Dana Altman spitting truth with Sweet 16 at stake
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The Oregon Ducks have won nine straight games. They go for No. 10 on Sunday in San Jose. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

But I dont think Oregon Ducks basketball coach Dana Altman was fibbing when he said hes concerned about the Anteater problem he faces today with a trip to the Sweet 16 at stake.

Deep, experienced, fifth-year seniors, Altman said of No. 13-seed UC Irvine. Guys that have played together a long time under (coach Russell Turners) system, very well coached. Were not going to be able to make some of the mistakes weve been making and be successful.

On Friday, on press row at SAP Center for the first-round games, I sat beside a rosy-cheeked kid working for one of the student-run media outlets that covers Kansas State. They were playing UC Irvine. The kid was elated at finding himself as a working journalist in the NCAA Tournament. And I leaned over before tip and asked him just how good his No. 4-seed Wildcats were.

Then, the game tipped, and exactly two minutes and one second into the game, UC Irvine guard Max Hazzard hit a three-point basket with a Kansas State defender in his face. He turned on his way back down the court and shouted at the Wildcats bench, You cant guard me!

Just about everyone one of the teams still in this mens NCAA Tournament is in that position. Have a bad half, and youre out. Take a match-up for granted, and youre done. Look too far ahead, maybe to the NCAA Regional in Louisville, and youre suddenly a tournament has-been.

In the closing minutes of that first-round win I looked on the court. With the game on the line against Kansas State, UC Irvines lineup on the court went like this: Graduate student, Graduate student, redshirt Junior, Junior, and Junior.

The NCAA Tournament is made for a mid-major Cinderella that fields an experienced, talented, hungry team such as that.

Im not saying UC Irving will beat Oregon today. Im saying the Anteaters were built for a moment like this. And their coach, Turner, is a former Stanford assistant who has carefully constructed this team to exploit a more talented, less experienced operation. And thats what Oregon is.

Said Altman of the Anteaters: You win 31 games, thats not by accident. 17 in a row. And we think were kind of on a roll because we won nine. And theyve won 17.

Payton Pritchards leadership will matter for Oregon, especially today. Hes a junior, who has played in a Final Four. And why Ehab Amin, a redshirt senior, will be a factor. And redshirt senior Paul White will need to be on his game, too.

You can spin Oregons season into a cute fairy tale about a team that finally decided to believe in each other. Or we can be real about why it is they turned the corner and accelerated in the last month — Altman finally found some experienced players he could trust.

Louis King is a freshman. Great talent. Might play for a long time in the NBA one day. Kenny Wooten, a sophomore, is out there playing volleyball, swatting shots into the rafters. Freshman Francis Okoro is the teams spirit animal. But today is about experience, and its going to be interesting to see how King, Wooten and some of the young Ducks players might factor in a game built for the old guys.

No. 12 Oregon is under-seeded. That much became clear in the opening-round game against Wisconsin. But this tournament is about to get interesting. And if Oregon is going to the Sweet 16 it gets there not by hitting threes and running down court looking into the stands to see who was watching, but by playing its smartest game of the season.

Nobody knows better than we do that were underdogs, Turner said. “But that doesnt really matter. You know, you gotta — thats the great thing about this tournament.


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