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No. 7 Oregon blitzes No. 2 Iowa

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Oregon first game in the NCAA tournament was phenomenal.

The No. 7 Ducks blistered No. 2 Iowa en route to a 95-80 upset victory over the Hawkeyes in the Western Region’s second round. Oregon scored 56 points in the first half, shooting 56% of the field as Iowa was helpless to stop the Ducks’ attack.

While the game wasn’t incredibly competitive for most of the second half, it was one of the most entertaining of the tournament to date. Unless you’re an Iowa fan.

That pleasure should have been expected; Iowa went into the game averaging over 80 points per game, and Oregons’ offense ranked No. 13 in KenPom.com’s statistics. Combine that with two teams outside the top 50 in the KenPoms defensive rankings and the recipe was there for a firefight.

And while Oregon increased its lead to 15 early in the second half, the game’s helter-go-kart nature seemed well suited to an attempt at a comeback in Iowa. That never really happened. The Hawkeyes narrowed the lead to 67-57 with just under 15 minutes to go before Joe Wieskamp appeared to exacerbate a right ankle injury he sustained in the Big Ten tournament. He cautiously walked off the field after clumsily planting his ankle while losing the ball on the sidelines.

Although Wieskamp eventually returned to the game after a brief absence, Oregon quickly pushed the lead back to 15 and Iowa never came close to strikes again.

All five of Oregon starters scored nine or more points, scoring the team’s first 78 points. The Ducks did not play in the first round of the NCAA tournament after their match against No. 10 VCU was declared non-match due to positive COVID-19 testing at VCU.

Iowa star Luka Garza had 36 points but didn’t get much offensive help from anyone else as Iowa’s players not called Garza shot 38% off the field.

The disastrous start of the Big Ten

The Big Ten sent nine teams into the men’s NCAA tournament in 2021. And with nine complete games in the second round, only two teams are left. Iowa became the seventh of the nine teams to be eliminated by the eruption during the first weekend. And it is the second No. 2 seed of the Big Ten to be knocked out of the tournament; Ohio State lost in the first round to Oral Roberts.

Only Michigan and Maryland remain and they will both play later on Monday. Terrapins are underdogs for Alabama and Michigan is the five preferred over LSU. It’s not that hard to see the Big Ten in the Sweet 16 without a team. And that would be an unbelievable disaster for a conference considered the best in college basketball over the season.

On the other hand, the Pac-12 hasn’t lost a game yet. Oregon’s win pushed the conference to 8-0 in the tournament with Oregon State already in the Sweet 16 with the Ducks and UCLA and USC yet to play on Monday.

How far can Oregon go?

While we’ve seen enough of the Big Ten through the first four days of the NCAA tournament to call the conference’s performance poor, it’s possible to believe that Oregon could be the biggest threat to Gonzaga in the West -region? It’s not an absurd idea.

The Ducks showed on Monday that they have five starters who can stay with the best teams in the country and that they can accumulate enough points to play with Gonzaga.

You can’t say that about Kansas or USC. While the Jayhawks have been playing better lately, KU was offensive mid-season. And while USC beat Oregon 14 in the regular season, it’s easy to see a potential Sweet 16 rematch coming a lot closer than that game on February 22.

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