|9:57 ET, Mar 20, 2021
Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis, Indiana
Oregon's offense faces stern test vs. VCU's defense
Oregon's highly efficient offense will be matched against one of the best defenses in the country when the Ducks play VCU in a West Region game of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Oregon (20-6) is 16th in the nation in KenPom's offensive efficiency rating while VCU (19-7) is 12th in defensive efficiency and fifth nationally in blocks (5.4) tied for fifth in steals (9.2 a game).
Oregon, the No. 7 seed in the West Region, has won 11 of its last 13 games. The Ducks lost last weekend in the semifinals to eventual Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon State.
"How this team responds will be totally up to them," Oregon coach Dana Altman said of the challenge facing VCU, the No. 10 seed. "We had a spirited practice (Sunday). ... It'll be a long way waiting for Saturday, but we're going to have to practice a little bit; we've got some things we got to iron out. We didn't play well in the (Pac-12) tournament, so we're going to have to get some things worked on."
Despite being a perennially successful program that has won consecutive Pac-12 regular-season titles, Oregon lacks extensive NCAA Tournament experience. Only Will Richardson and St. John's transfer LJ Figueroa have previously played in the Big Dance.
"It's a big moment, especially for me, and I know it's a big moment for the guys also," Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi said. "A few of us not being there before, but now it's time to lock in and get ready to go do what we got to do."
Oregon's Chris Duarte was the Pac-12 player of the year. Duarte and the Ducks will face Atlantic 10 player of the year Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland.
Hyland led the A-10 in scoring with 19.5 points a game, which ranks 30th nationally. The last VCU player to win conference player of the year was Eric Maynor, who earned the honor in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2008 and 2009.
Hyland topped the league in field goals made (152) and attempted (340) and 3-pointers made per game (2.91). He scored 30 or more points three times and 20-plus points 12 times this season.
After VCU lost to St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 championship game, Hyland said his team is ready to "move forward."
"That's one of our core values, just trying to move forward," Hyland said. "That's what we have to focus on."
Picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, VCU finished second in the regular season.
"It'll be an interesting week getting ready," Altman said. "We'll make sure we get a good look at them. VCU when Shaka (Smart) got it going, they were always pressing and running. I'm sure it'll be a very athletic team that'll get after us."
Oregon is 0-1 against VCU with the only meeting a 77-63 Rams win on Nov. 25, 2014, in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 16, 2021