When the 2016 Elite 8 tips off Saturday evening, there will be a decidedly Big 12 flavor in both games. Kansas and Oklahoma have spent time as the No. 1 team in the nation, and they are each one win away from a third and final showdown. The next day features four ACC teams vying for two more coveted Final Four spots. However, it’s the two conferences with only one team remaining that could be the talk of the NCAA Tournament.
Big East representative Villanova has been downright dominant during their three game tournament run. The (32-5) Wildcats are coming off of a 23 point victory over Miami in the Sweet 16. So far, their average margin of victory is 24 points per game. According to Fox Sports, the Kansas vs Villanova match up is a heavyweight battle worthy of championship game coverage. Too bad only one team can advance.
On the season, the Wildcats are shooting a respectable 35.6 percent from 3-point land. Unfortunately for their three opponents in the South Region, the Wildcats have been on fire. In three games, Villanova is shooting 53 percent from 3-point range, and they shot an outrageous 66.7 percent against the Hurricanes. Now the only team that stands in their way are the Jayhawks.
The most intriguing part of their shooting prowess is the lack of dependency on the shot. They’ve only taken 34 3-pointers in the last two games. Where the Wildcats really stand out are the assist numbers. They are dishing out 20 assists per game, and it’s been giving their opponents fits.
Speaking of assists, the Oregon Ducks (31-6) might be the best passing team in the Elite 8. Although they only had six assists in the second round win over St. Joes, the Ducks sliced the Duke defense with 22 assists during their Sweet 16 win. Their speed game is as prolific as the football teams no-huddle attack.
The lost art of the outlet pass is not lost on this group from Eugene. The Ducks ability to attack the rim is bolstered by their ability to spread the defense thin. With four players averaging double figures, the Ducks have multiple players able to explode offensively. They shoot over 34 percent from 3-point range, but are a whopping 53 percent from two.
Oregon was the unknown commodity coming into the NCAA Tournament, and there was some disbelief when they earned a No. 1 seed. However, they were projected as a two seed for about a month, and all they needed were a few breaks to go their way. Still the belief didn’t start around the country until midway through the first half against Duke.
That’s when reality set in. This Oregon team is the real deal. The Ducks have always been the real deal, and they don’t mind showing opponents how real they are on the defensive end. They are second in the country with 219 blocks. Single-handedly, the Ducks have erased the bad taste of the PAC-12’s performance in the NCAA Tournament.
Yet and still, the Sooners have Buddy Hield. He’s capable of putting the entire team on his back. Oregon is also capable of slowing down the Sooners’ best player with tough defense. They held Grayson Allen to 15 points on 4 of 13 shooting.
So while all the eyes are on the Big 12 and ACC in the Elite 8, there are two teams capable of dismantling dreams.