KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sporting Alert — The battle for Final Four places gets underway on Saturday night, as No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and Kansas both seek to push on at the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
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Watch Kansas v Oregon Live Stream at 8:49 PM ET
At the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, Frank Mason III will lead the Jayhawks (31-4) against the third-seeded Oregon in the Midwest Regional final.
In the night’s other Elite Eight contest, Gonzaga will take on the No. 11 seeded Xavier in the West Regional final in San Jose, California.
Blowout Wins To Get Here
Kansas cruised into the last eight of the NCAA Tournament with a comfortable 98-66 victory over Purdue for its third blowout win at the 2017 NCAA Tournament, following earlier wins over UC Davis and Michigan State.
Mason, who is averaging 20.9 points per game, had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the last outing against Purdue and the senior guard is averaging over 22 points per game during the 2017 March Madness tourney.
Oregon, meanwhile, survived a 69-68 victory over Michigan in its Sweet 16 matchup to setup Saturday’s battle with the Jayhawks.
Brooks To Lead The Ducks
Dillon Brooks, who is averaging 16.3 points per game this season, has scored in double digits in each of the last three games in the NCAA Tournament this month and the junior forward is expected to be a handful for Kansas.
The Ducks (32-5) are looking forward to advancing.
“We look forward to the challenge,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said in looking ahead to this clash. “It’s an opportunity to play.
“Kansas is Kansas. Obviously look out there. There is a little green section and a dark blue section. Royal blue filled everything else.
“It will be a tough ballgame because it’s a road game.”
Ready For Tight Battle
Kansas coach Bill Self is also looking forward to the battle for a Final Four spot.
“(I have a) ton of respect (for Oregon),” Self said. “(They’re) unbelievably athletic.
“They’re like us, they’re going to play small a lot of the time because they will play Dillon (Brooks) at the 4 like we play Josh (Jackson) and then play the best defender in the Pac-12, Defensive Player of the Year around the middle, kind of like we do Landen (Lucas).
“So I think it will be two teams that at least match up with each other pretty well.”
Oregon will be making it fifth Elite Eight appearance in program history and the Ducks are still searching for their first victory at this stage of the NCAA tournament.
It could very well be a long night for the Pac-12 outfits, as ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is favouring Kansas with a 60 percent chance of winning.
Gonzaga v Xavier
After shocking the second-seeded Arizona in the Sweet 16, Xavier has its sights set on another upset in San Jose.
The Musketeers (24-13) pulled off one of the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament this year by sending home title contender Arizona in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night to become just the seventh 11th seed to advance to the Elite 8.
Gonzaga, in the meantime, held on for a 61-58 victory over West Virginia in the last round and is a strong favourite to secure a Final Four place.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index has listed the Bulldogs (35-1) has the heavy favourites to see off Xavier.
Gonzaga has been given an 88 percent chance to advance, which would see the team becoming the first WCC team since San Francisco went to three straight from 1955-57, to reach the Final Four.