Rushed Reactions: #3 Oregon 69, #7 Michigan 68

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 23rd, 2017

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman) is in Kansas City for this weekend’s Midwest Regional.

Oregon Gets To Keep On Dancing (USA Today Images)

Three Key Takeaways.

  • Derrick Walton Jr. shines, but falls just short. Michigan’s senior point guard had elevated his play down the stretch, and he had another terrific game Thursday night, scoring 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting and delivering eight assists against just two turnovers in 37 minutes of action. With the game in the balance, however, Walton hoisted an ill-advised three-pointer that rimmed away sealing the win for Oregon. His excellent play and self-confidence showed why he’s become so magnetic over the last few weeks, but he fell just one play short.
  • Jordan Bell excels on both ends. With Chris Boucher out, Bell has stepped up to provide athleticism and denial of easy looks. He did a terrific job of shutting down Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson, Michigan’s two talented big men. He also helped carry the load on offense, scoring 16 points and carving up the Wolverines’ small frontcourt. Most teams don’t have a player who can lock up a pair of players like that on one end and dice them up on the other, but Bell was just that for Oregon, and he’ll be an X-Factor no matter who he lines up against Saturday night.
  • A storybook chapter in Michigan basketball comes to a close. The Wolverines went through it all in the last few weeks from a potentially disastrous travel incident to an improbable Big Ten Tournament run and conquering two of college basketball’s best units in Oklahoma State’s offense and Louisville’s defense. With just one more fortuitous bounce on Thursday, the Wolverines would be playing for a spot in the Final Four, but just because they fell short doesn’t mean that this wasn’t one of college basketball’s best stories, because it was.

Player Of The Game. Jordan Bell. Bell’s match-up was the most appealing entering tonight with Michigan lacking the size and athleticism to get the better of him, but credit is still due for capitalizing on the opportunity.

Quotable. It can be tough to avoid getting caught up in all the swings of such a tight game, but it wasn’t an issue for Oregon head coach Dana Altman, who managed to block out the drama and wait until after the game to reflect: “Well, it’s a competitive ball game while you’re in the game. You don’t think about it much. It’s just one play getting ready for the next play. There’s frustration when you give up an easy basket, feel pretty good when you execute something to get a good look.”

Sights and Sounds. Tonight’s game didn’t start on a great note offensively, with both teams struggling to shake off the dust after a week of rest, but it was an exciting match-up nonetheless, with the lead changing hands 16 times over the course of the night. Top-notch playmaking by both teams made for a tense finish that almost made anyone watching forget about the missed bunnies by Oregon and ill-advised shots from Michigan that plagued the opening stanza.

What’s Next? Oregon advances to play the winner of tonight’s nightcap between Kansas and Purdue.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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