NCAA Basketball

No. 3 Oregon will face storied No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four

No. 3 Oregon will face storied No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four

The Oregon Ducks went through a legendary Kansas program to reach the Final Four where they will face an even more storied college basketball program in North Carolina at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Final Four in Phoenix, Ariz.  

The No. 1 Tar Heels won the South Region today by defeating No. 2 Kentucky, 75-73 in Memphis, Tenn.  

Oregon (33-5) put on a spectacular performance while upsetting the No. 1 Jayhawks (31-5) in the Midwest Regional finals Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.  The Ducks might need an equally great showing to do the same to the Tar Heels (31-7). 

North Carolina is one of the deepest teams in the nation, often playing a 10-man rotation, as it did Sunday against the Wildcats (32-5). 

Plus, the Tar Heels have tons of front court depth, something UO sorely lacks. The Ducks play just two players taller than 6-foot-7, junior forward Jordan Bell (6-9) and junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams (6-10). Only Bell is a consistent performer. So much so that he was named the Midwest Regional MVP

The Tar Hells, coached by Roy Williams (814-216 overall, 396-115 at NC), rotate five players that stand 6-8 or better: Senior Kennedy Meeks (6-10), freshman Tony Bradley (6-10), senior Isaiah Hicks (6-9), junior Justin Jackson (6-8) and sophomore Luke Maye (6-8).

Maye hit the game-winning jump shot with .3 seconds remaining to defeat Kentucky. Jackson is an All-American averaging 18.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Meeks gives the Tar Heels 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. 

Despite all of the team's size, NC averages a modest three blocked shots per game. Bell had eight blocks against Kansas and is averaging 2.3 on the season. 

North Carolina has an elite point guard in Joel Berry II, who is averaging 14.7 points and 3.6 assists per game. 

NC's size certainly will provide a test inside for the Ducks. But Oregon can counter with the hottest offensive player in the nation in sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, and Pac-12 player of the year, junior forward Dillon Brooks. 

History of success is certainly on North Carolina's side. The Tar Heels, producer of legendary stars like James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Vince Carter, will be going to their 20th Final Four seeking their sixth national title. Most recent titles came in 209 and 2005. NC lost the national championship game last season to Villanova. 

The Ducks will be making their first trip to the Final Four, but second to the semifinals. When the Ducks won the 1939 national title there was no formal Final Four round held at a single site. 

Oregon fulfills Final Four dreams through steely resolve

Oregon fulfills Final Four dreams through steely resolve

KANSAS CITY - The sting of losing to Oklahoma in last year's West Regional finals lingered for Oregon Saturday night against Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals at the Sprint Center. The pain served as reminder to these Ducks. Motivated them. Made them stronger.  Convinced them they had to do whatever was necessary to avoid such devastation from happening again. 

So despite not having a key cog in senior forward Chris Boucher (knee), despite being an underdog to a No. 1 Kansas team with arguably more raw talent accustomed to destroying opponents, and despite facing the Jayhawks in an arena just 45 minutes from Kansas' campus and filled with fans wearing blue and red, the Oregon Ducks rose to the challenge and did the improbable, winning 74-60 to earn the program's first trip to the Final Four since 1939.

"Best moment ever," UO forward Jordan Bell said. "Only thing that could top this is winning the national championship."

Saturday was, without a doubt, a monumental night not only for UO's basketball program but also for the athletic department as a whole. Oregon has tasted great success in many different sports during the past two decades, but always seemed to be one step behind the major powers when it came to men's basketball.

Three times in the last 15 years (2002, 2007 and 2016) the Ducks had failed to cash in on Elite Eight appearances, including last season when the UO lost 80-68 to Oklahoma in Anaheim, Calif. Oklahoma's veteran team played with far more confidence and continuity than Oregon that night. The Ducks knew it.

"That feeling in the locker room last year knowing you were so close to the Final Four, where you wanted to get to, we don’t want to feel that again,” UO junior forward Casey Benson said. 

But rather than run from that disappointment, the No. 3 Ducks (33-5) embraced it, redirected it and transformed it into rocket fuel that had them flying high with confidence all night against Kansas, shocking the 18,663 in attendance. 

“That was always in the back of our minds - Oklahoma,” junior forward Dillon Brooks said.

Added Bell": “It helped us out so much."  

UO coach Dana Altman sensed his team's laser-like focus following the Ducks' 69-68 win over Michigan Thursday night in the Sweet 16. It contrasted last year's reaction to defeating famed Duke in the same round. 

 "First of all, we felt so good after beating Duke and we patted ourselves on the backs so much that we didn't have that edge when we played Oklahoma," Altman said.

Altman saw a different demeanor from his team after a narrow victory over the Wolverines.

"I was real happy when I came in [the locker room] after the Michigan game and we weren't celebrating," Altman said. "We were focused on, we got one more game here. So I thought maybe the experience of a year ago maybe helped us."

The Ducks' defense was ferocious on Saturday. Bell had eight blocked shots and altered about a dozen others while the perimeter defenders rarely allowed good looks for Kansas, which shot 20 percent from three-point range, including 1 of 15 in the second half. The Jayhawks shot 35 percent overall. 

On offense, the Ducks faced a tough defense but time after time found a way to stick a huge jumper or get a big offensive rebound which lead to 13 second-chance points. 

Leading the offense's charge was sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, who continued his amazing postseason play with 27 points on 9 of 13 shooting, including 6 of 10 from three-point range. 

But this win wasn't as much about statistics as it was about how much Oregon appeared to be in command of its nerves, emotions and focus in such a hostile environment swirling with intense pressure. 

The Ducks simply didn't care what the fans did, or what Kansas tried to do. And early on, they knew they could shock the college basketball world against a team that dismantled its first three NCAA Tournament opponents by a combined count of 288 to 198.

“When we were hitting shots and we were playing defense and not letting them score, we knew that it was possible,” Brooks said.

Each positive moment raised the team's confidence and put the Kansas fans into shock mode. They cheered with every sign of life from the Jayhawks only to be settled down with each Oregon response. 

“As a road team, essentially, that was big," said Benson, who scored on an amazing finger roll play in the first half. "Obviously we didn’t want to let the crowd get into it.”

Helping to propel Oregon were public slights here and there. 

“Guys over at CBS were saying that we’re nothing and we have no defense without Chris Boucher and we disproved that today by locking in on one of the best offensive teams in the country,” Brooks said.

This quest began immediately after last season when Bell met with Altman. 

“I made a promise to coach Altman that I was going to get him to the Final Four before I left, so I had to just play my butt off,” Bell said. 

His belief came from the emotions the team displayed after last season. 

“I saw the players we had and the determination we had and I saw the hurt form losing last year,” Bell said.  “I knew we had it.”

Brooks made the same promise to Altman.  

“We wanted to win the Pac-12 and we did, then we wanted more,” Brooks said. “We got hungry. We got a little greedy.”

They got a little edgy. 

No maybe about it. That experience last season brought the team together and it showed on Saturday. 

“Playing for one another and playing for coach we’re going to Final Four… ” Benson said. “Coming in we were a confident bunch and we all really like each other.”

Tyler Dorsey "shushes" pro-Kansas crowd, deliveres another great showing

Tyler Dorsey "shushes" pro-Kansas crowd, deliveres another great showing

KANSAS CITY - Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey has moved beyond simply being hot this postseason and has landed in some other state of lucid being that many athletes never experience. 

Dorsey scored 27 points Saturday night during the Ducks' 74-60 win over Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals while making 9 of 13 shots, including 6 of 10 from three-point range. Two of his 3-point shots at the Sprint Center won't soon be forgotten by Kansas' players or fans. 

The latter came shortly after Kansas had decreased its deficit to 66-60 with just over two minutes remaining. The Jayhawks' defense cranked up the heat and forced Dorsey to throw up a desperation shot as the shot clock moved to zero.

Somehow, No. 1 Kansas (31-5) failed to get the defensive rebound and UO forward Jordan Bell ended up with the ball.

"We was running a play that was supposed to go down the gut to Jordan and I wasn't playing attention to the shot clock," Dorsey said. "So, it was my fault and when I was looking at it and I just threw up a desperation shot and I guess they didn't box out and Jordan got a big rebound."

Eventually it made its way back into the hands of Dorsey, who stuck a three to give the No. 3 Ducks (33-5) a 69-60 lead with 1:49 remaining. 

"We caught a break there and Jordan got the rebound and we got to set up another play and TD hit a clutch shot to put us up 9," UO forward Dillon Brooks said. 

That was just about that for the Jayhawks and Dorsey knew it. As he ran back down the court, Dorsey put one finger to his lips as if to tell the mostly ultra pro-Kansas crowd of 18,643 that had been so loud during that possession to "shush." 

“I sent messages throughout the game," Dorsey said. 'That was a big shot and I always have something to do after I make a big shot.”

Dorsey has made big shot after big shot in this tournament after lighting up the Pac-12 Tournament. In seven games he is averaging 23.5 points on Dorsey during the postseason is averaging 23 points per game and is shooting 62.3 percent shooting, including 57.8 percent from three-point range. 

But Saturday's was his best performance of the postseason. 

While Bell destroyed the Kansas offense with 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots, Dorsey did most of the major damage at the other end. The Jayhawks had no answer for him. 

"Tyler, I mean, his -- the way he stepped up in the tournament was unbelievable," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He is playing with tremendous confidence, not only making plays for himself but his teammates and defensively he was solid."

No moment displayed how hot Dorsey is than at the end of the first half.

First he nailed a three-pointer that bounced high off the rim, then off the backboard and down into the basket. On the Ducks' next possession, Dorsey ran down the game clock then launched a deep three that went off the backboard and in at the halftime buzzer to give the Ducks a 44-33 lead. 

When you're hot you're hot. 

Kansas coach Bill Self said that sequence truly hurt Kansas.

"We're down five and hadn't played very well in the first half with a minute 50 left and they bang in those two -- well, they banged in the two threes in the last 45 seconds that made a close game, an 11-point game and certainly put a lot of game pressure on us," he said. 

As for Dorsey's clutch three near the end of the game, Self said it was another example of the Ducks making shots despite good Kansas defense. 

"The other thing they did a great job of was how many times did they make shots at the end of the clock that were pretty well defended," Self said. 

Most of that came from Dorsey, who this month has gone from inconsistent mystery to Oregon legend. 

Jordan Bell intimidates Kansas, sets tone for Ducks in 74-60 win

Jordan Bell intimidates Kansas, sets tone for Ducks in 74-60 win

KANSAS CITY - Oregon junior forward Jordan Bell wasn't impressed with Kansas center Landen Lucas. Bell didn't fear future NBA first-round draft pick, Josh Jackson. Bell certainly had few concerns about Jayhawks' stalwarts, Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham. 

But they all certainly had Bell on their minds during the Ducks' 74-60 win over Kansas in the Midwest Regional finals of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night at the Sprint Center. 

Bell, Oregon's lone impact big man with senior Chris Boucher (knee) out, completely disrupted, discombobulated and destroyed Kansas' offense and interior defense with 11 points, 13 rebounds (seven offensive, helping UO get 13 second-chance points) and a whopping eight blocked shots. Oh, and Bell added four assists (there were also four turnovers, but we don't need to get into that) just for good measure.

Still, the MVP of the Midwest Region didn't appear to be completely satisfied with his play during an upset win that sent the Ducks to the Final Four. 

“I think I played alright," Bell said. "I let a couple of layups get in.”

Nobody is perfect. Kansas (31-5) will only remember all the shots they missed while shooting 35 percent on the night and 28.1 percent in the second half. 

The Ducks (33-5) played great team defense, but the undeniable factor was Bell, who from the outset made it know that anyone who ventured into the paint with the basketball ran the high risk of having their shot sent back with a vengeance. Bell intimated Kansas so much that it became clear they were looking for him at all times, even when Jayhawks got inside for good looks. 

“From the get-go he was altering shots, blocking shots, just flying around," UO junior guard Casey Benson said. "He brought so much energy tonight...I’ve seen Jordan play some good games but that might be the best I’ve ever seen him play, to be honest with you."

Bell said he didn't believe he changed Kansas' game plan, and he is correct.

“They kept going," he pointed out. "They’re great offensive players over there. I don’t really think I changed their mind (about going inside). I mean, they kept going and I had eight blocks.”

On the other hand, Bell certainly altered Kansas' confidence inside. 

"He controlled and anchored their defense very well, and I certainly understand why he was (defensive) player of the year in the Pac-12," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But even with that being said, there were numerous times where I thought especially when we got to the bonus relatively early in the second half that we could have done a better job of trying to draw fouls driving the ball as opposed to shooting so many semi or guarded threes that we came up empty on.

Maybe so, but few shots were falling from anywhere for Kansas, which made just five of 25 three-point attempts. What killed the Jayhawks were the many short shots and potential layups that Bell either rejected or altered just enough to make them bounce off the rim. 

Remember, this Kansas team averaged 83.2 points per game on the season and entered the night having outscored its first three tournament opponents, 288 to 198. 

"That may have been his best performance in his three years," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He was phenomenal today. He set the tone early. I thought that was really important. I said in the locker room that he played like we had Chris and him out there. He dominated inside."

Although Bell remembered the imperfections in his game, he also saw the good. 

“I think this is the best I’ve ever played in college basketball," Bell said. "I shine in big moments like this.”

He simply believes, frighteningly so, that he could play even better. 

Oregon swats away No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, advances to Final Four

Oregon swats away No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, advances to Final Four

Oregon 74, Kansas 60 

How Oregon won: No. 3 Oregon (33-5) shot the lights out all night and played spirited and aggressive defense against No. 1 Kansas (31-5) to stun the mostly pro-Jayhwks crowd of 18,643 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and win 74-60 to advance to the Final Four in Phoenix, Ariz.

Oregon got off to a fantastic start shooting 60 percent in the first half including 7 of 12 from three-point range. That led to a 44-33 lead at the break. The Ducks closed the half with two three-point baskets from sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey. One bounced off the rim, went straight up then back down and in. The other came from straight away deep and went off the backboard at the buzzer. 

Dorsey had 14 in the first half, senior guard Dylan Ennis had 10 and junior forward Dillon Brooks scored 9. Maybe the best performance of the half came from junior forward Jordan Bell, who had four points, eight rebounds and blocked four shots that set the tone on defense. 

Kansas shot 42.9 percent in the first half and were hurt considerably by the foul trouble that Josh Jackson found himself in early on. It disrupted his flow and he finished with zero points after shooting just one shot. Frank Mason III carried the Jayhawks in the first half with 17. 

The great play on offense by UO fell off a bit in the second half but the Ducks' defense did not. Bell put fear into the hearts of every Kansas player that entred the paint with eight blocked shots that ultimately led to countless other altered shots for the Jayhawks. 

On offense, whenever Kansas even remotely looked like it could get back into the game, someone on Oregon made a big play to push the Jayhawks back. 

What it means: Oregon advances to the Final Four for the first time since 1939 when the Ducks last won a national title. 

Key sequence: Kansas got the deficit down to 61-51 in the second half and turned up the heat on defense. After moving the ball around a bit, it ended up in the hands of Dorsey, who starred down his defender and nailed a three-pointer to make the score 64-51, UO. As Dorsey ran back on defense he put one finger to his lips to tell the pro-Kansas crowd to "shush." 

Kansas cut its deficit down to 64-55 but then Ennis scored on a layup to give UO a 66-55 lead. 

Kansas later got a three from forward Svi Mykhailiuk to make it 66-60, UO with 2:49 remaining. Then KU seemingly had a defensive stop working when the shot clock ran down on UO forcing Dorsey to throw up a desperation shot. Kansas, however, failed to get the rebound and the ball landed in Bell's hands. Seconds later, Dorsey cranked up a three to go up 69-60 with 1:41 remaining. 

That was pretty much that. 

High-flying Ducks: Dorsey ended with 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting and had five rebounds. Bell gave the Ducks 11 points and 13 rebounds to go along with his eight blocked shots. 

Brooks scored 17 while making 7 of 18 shots. 

Up next:  Oregon will take on the winner of Sunday's South Region finals game between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Kentucky in next Saturday's Final Four. 

Oregon's Chris Boucher is devastated but supportive

Oregon's Chris Boucher is devastated but supportive

KANSAS CITY - Oregon senior forward Chris Boucher expected to be an integral part of the Ducks' run at a Final Four appearance. 

His shot blocking, rebounding, inside and outside scoring prowess figured to help UO make such a run. Then, it all came crashing down for Boucher while attempting to block a shot against California during the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament two weekends ago in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The next day, Boucher was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. He since has been relegated to cheerleader while the No. 3 Ducks (32-5) have carved out a path to the Elite Eight where they will face No. 1 Kansas (31-4) on Saturday night. 

"Well, it's been hard for sure, but seeing my team getting into the tournament and all covers for it a little bit," Boucher said today during media availability at the Sprint Center. "You always want to be on the floor and play. Definitely hurts sometimes to watch them do it so good and you can't do anything about it."

Senior guard Dylan Ennis can relate. He missed virtually all of last season with a foot injury that forced him to watch Oregon reach the Elite Eight without him. 

"As a senior, I know how hard it is and lucky I got my year back, but him going through this his senior year he's been a big part of this and especially with him on the bench he's so encouraging and he's taken that role as being the next coach, that positive reinforcement," Ennis said. "So everything he is doing we can't be more grateful for him."

Oregon lost the Pac-12 Tournament championship game to Arizona without Boucher, but has won three NCAA Tournament games since. Still, it's obvious that the Ducks miss his 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game. Losing him has placed more pressure on junior forward Jordan Bell to protect the rim. 

"We lost our advantage with the blocks with Chris," Altman said. "We were averaging almost seven blocks a game with him, and I think in the four games without him now I think we have eight total. So Jordan has become a little less aggressive with his blocks, trying to stay out of foul trouble. He's done a great job of picking up rebounding. Chris was our second leading rebounder and third leading scorer besides being the guy who blocked the most shots. Defensively we've slipped. Our numbers in the last four games are not as good as they were previous to him going down. So we've tried to make up for that a little bit offensively."

To do what he can, Boucher said he watches games intently looking for details he can pass on to teammates. 

"I'm just trying to help my team and tell them what I could see from the bench and they could go from there," Boucher said.

It's something, but not what Boucher and Ducks had planned for his role to be during this this time of the season. 

Kansas coach Bill Self laments missing out on Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey

Kansas coach Bill Self laments missing out on Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey

KANSAS CITY - Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey has been tearing up the postseason for the Ducks, who face Kansas Saturday in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. 

His play has served as a reminder to Kansas coach Bill Self of a good one that got away. No. 1 Kansas (31-4) recruited the former five-star recruit out of Pasadena, Calif., hard and even had him in for a visit. Yet, Dorsey chose No. 3 Oregon (32-5) in the end. 

"We wanted Tyler, bad," Self said today at the Sprint Center. "I just thought he was a guard that could play on the ball and off the ball and certainly that's played out to be 100% accurate. He's a point guard that can shoot and score. He's a terrific kid. We really liked him. A lot. Unfortunately he didn't like us as much as we liked him. But it turned out to be what great choice he made! Turned out to be perfect from him, at least from the outside looking in."

Dorsey during the postseason is averaging 23 points per game and is shooting 61.2 percent from the field. Oregon could need him to remain hot if it expects to get past Kansas and into the Final Four. 

Self said Oregon has an abundance of shooters that make the Ducks dangerous. "You've got one in particular, that's probably the hottest player in the tournament shooting the ball in Tyler Dorsey," he added.

Oregon's resolve, guile and heart deserve admiration after 69-68 win over Michigan

Oregon's resolve, guile and heart deserve admiration after 69-68 win over Michigan

KANSAS CITY - Oregon senior guard Dylan Ennis put his head down in disappointment after missing his second front end of one-and-one free throw attempts in the final two minutes Thursday night, the latter coming with the Ducks leading 69-68 over Michigan at the Sprint Center. 

Ennis felt deflated, knowing that having made the first of his second one-and-one attempt would have given his team a two-point lead with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Making two at the end would have put the No. 3 Ducks up three. 

"I went straight over to him," Oregon junior guard Casey Benson said, describing how he offered Ennis encouragement.

But Ennis, a 74.8 percent free throw shooter, didn't need much of a pep talk. He knew he had to find a way to make amends with Michigan having one final chance at pulling out a victory. 

Ennis, as it turned out, ended up on Michigan senior guard Derrick Walton Jr.   Ennis made it difficult on Walton, a deft penetrator who ultimately settled for a deep jumper that banged off the rim at the buzzer. Ducks win, 69-68 to advance to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. 

"If they hit that shot, it's on you," Ennis said, "and I didn't want to live with that for the rest of my life. So I dug in."

Oregon (32-5) has made digging in a habit this postseason. When this season comes to a close - national champions, or not - these Oregon Ducks should be remembered for their guts, guile and heart. All three have carried them through no matter what obstacles stand in their way. Some have been created by their own doing. Some have come about because of bad luck. Others were the result of strong play from a worthy opponent, such as Michigan.

"The team with the most heart won," UO forward Dillon Brooks said. 

That Oregon, which will face No. 1 Kansas on Saturday, made it this far is not shocking. But that they have twice overcome being eliminated by finding a way win over and over has been impressive. The Ducks, minus star forward Chris Boucher (knee) this postseason, easily could have lost in the second to Rhode Island, but pulled out a 75-72 lead thanks to shutting down the Rams over the final few minutes and getting two huge three-point shots from sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey. 

Several clutch plays defined Thursday night's win. No. 7 Michigan (26-12) led 68-65 when Ennis missed his first front end of a one-and-one. That could have proven to be devastating. But junior forward Jordan Bell slithered his way underneath Michigan's big men to gather the rebound and put it back in with a reverse layup to make the score 68-67. 

After the game, Ennis joked that he owed Bell dinner for "saving his life." Bell joked that his teammate certainly owed him something. But most of all, several of Oregon's players said that that's just how they do things. As a team. Having one another's backs. Picking one another up. Remaining strong. 

"We were just playing tough," Brooks said. "Teams are going to go up and we're going to go down. But we're not going to get discouraged."

After one of the team's three defensive stops over the final two minutes, Dorsey ended up with the ball and Oregon down 68-67. He fiercely grinded his way to get off a shot. Driving left. Getting stopped. Faking. Spinning. Getting his defender into the air. Then he smoothly floated in a layup for the lead. 

"Do whatever you can to win," Bell said. 

Michigan was labeled as the team of destiny after experiencing a minor plane crash earlier this month prior to the start of the postseason. Maybe now it's Oregon that has some of that destiny stuff working for it right about now. 

"It's just exciting to move on to the next game and have another opportunity to go to the Final Four," Benson said. 

The Ducks were blasted last season by Oklahoma in the Elite Eight during that attempt to reach the Final Four. They weren't quite ready for that level of play. Saturday against Kansas will be very difficult. Its fan base has taken over the Sprint Center and it helped propel the Jayhawks to a 98-66 win over No. 4 Purdue. 

The Ducks will need every bit of their defensive prowess and the tenacity they displayed Thursday night to get through that game. 

"That's what kind of defense we need for 40 minutes," Brooks said. "The offense will come. Tonight it didn't."

Oregon in many ways is inferior to Kansas. Missing Boucher could really finally catch up with the Ducks on Saturday.

"I feel really bad for Chris, just because it's tearing him up," UO coach Dana Altman said. "He wants to be out there so bad, help his teammates.

The Ducks might go down Saturday. But it won't be without a fight. And it won't be because they lacked the heart to stand in there, take big blows and fire back with desire. 

Oregon returns to regional finals after 69-68 win over Michigan

USA Today

Oregon returns to regional finals after 69-68 win over Michigan

Oregon 69, Michigan 68 

How Oregon won: No. 3 Oregon (32-5) once again found a way late in a NCAA Tournament game to pull out a narrow victory and advance, winning 69-68 over No. 7 Michigan (26-12) Thursday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. 

Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, the hero in the team's second-round win over Rhode Island, made a three-foot shot to give UO a 69-68 lead with 1:09 remaining, and the Ducks got stops on Michigan's final three possessions over the final two minutes and change to earn the win. 

Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. missed a jump shot from 18 feet out at the buzzer.

Michigan attempted 31 three-point shots, making just 11. The Wolverines made 14 of 27 two-point field goals. Michigan coach John Bielein said there were several threes his team shouldn't have taken but also added that the Wolverines were mindful of Oregon forward Jordan Bell's defensive prowess inside. 

Oregon shot 44.8 percent from the field. Michigan made 43.1 percent of its shots and committed just one turnover in the second half after committing seven in the first half. The Ducks only turned the ball over five times all game. 

What it means: Oregon advances to the regional finals for the second consecutive season. Oregon last year lost 80-68 to Oklahoma in the West Regional finals in Anaheim, Calif. 

Key sequence: Oregon led 60-55 after senior guard Dylan Ennis hit a jump shot with 5:10 remaining. Michigan, however, answered with back-to-back three pointers. First D.J. Wilson made one from 24 feet out off an assist from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Dorsey then missed a jumper for Oregon setting up a three from Derrick Walton Jr. from 27 feet out to give the Wolverines a 61-60 lead with 4:15 remaining in the game, and causing UO coach Dana Altman to call a timeout.

The talking to worked. Dorsey came out of the timeout and got a three from the corner from to make the score 63-61, UO. But then, Irvin came back for Michigan with a three to give the Wolverines a 64-63 lead. 

Michigan led 68-65 with 1:49 remaining when Ennis missed the front end of a one-and-one. But Bell got the offensive rebound and scored to make the score 68-67, Michigan. 

Some 40 seconds later, Dorsey hit what proved to be the game-winner. 

High-flying Ducks: Dorsey finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and made five of his seven three-point attempts. 

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. 

Ennis gave the Ducks 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks had a relatively quiet night scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. However, he added four rebounds and five assists. 

Fowl play: UO junior forward Kavell Bigby-Williams only gave the Ducks one points and two rebounds in eight minutes of action. 

Up next: Oregon will play the winner of tonight's second game between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday. 

Oregon was rooting for Michigan, "until now"

Oregon was rooting for Michigan, "until now"

KANSAS CITY - Oregon players couldn't help but become Michigan fans after the Wolverines were involved in a minor plane crash three weeks ago that shook up the players but also has partially propelled them into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. 

"We've all been cheering them on," UO junior forward Jordan Bell said today during media availability at the Sprint Center. "We understand that going through a thing like that can really bring a lot of heart and passion out of people, so we've just been rooting for them."

Bell also added an "up until now," while talking about No. 7 Michigan, which is undefeated since the plane incident and now finds itself up against No. 3 Oregon (31-5) at 4:09 p.m. on Thursday. 

The story of the NCAA Tournament thus far revolves around Michigan (26-11) and its harrowing experience while on a plane taking the team to the Big Ten tournament in Washington, D.C. on Mar. 8.  Facing high winds while attempting to take off from Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Mich., the pilots aborted takeoff but ended up skidding off of the runway and crashing into a field. Nobody was injured but the event left the team a bit shaken up, according to reports.

Michigan went on to win the Big Ten Tournament and upset No. 2 Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to earn a trip to the Midwest Regional semifinals. Because of its story, some have dubbed Michigan as a "team of destiny."

"I think definitely an experience like that would bring you that much closer together, realizing what is important in the grand scheme of things," Oregon junior guard Casey Benson said. "Definitely they have carried that since that happened into the postseason. They're playing at a high level with a lot of confidence, so we've got to match the intensity."

The Michigan admiration, however, only goes so far. UO junior forward Dillon Brooks said the Wolverines' story wouldn't impact Thursday's game. 

"It's a great story and it's a great thing for that program," he said. "We all hear about it but it's just another team in front of us...I see a team in front of me. I know these guys see the same thing. They don't see no destiny. They don't see the crazy thing that happened to them. We just go out there and play our game and play hard. Those guys are talented guys and they play well together. They're playing well for each other and we have to crush that and not give them easy baskets."

The Wolverines were actually on a roll before the plane incident and have now won 12 of their last 14 games. They are led by senior guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin who attack the basket, shoot well from outside and don't turn over the ball very often. In fact, the Wolverines average just 9.2 turnovers per game. Oregon likes to be disruptive on defense in order to create bad shots and turnovers that lead to fast breaks. Accomplishing that through forced turnovers won't be easy against Michigan.  

"Being active on defense is going to be key for us," UO sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey said. "We must have active hands. That's going to be key for us in getting deflections and getting steals. Speeding them up and getting them out of their tempo and what they want to run."

Where Oregon could have a huge advantage is in the rebounding department. Michigan averages just 29.2 rebounds per game compared to 36.5 for Oregon.  Sophomore forward Moritz Wagner (6-foot-11) lit up Louisville for 26 points in the last round, but he gave the Wolverines just three rebounds. Wagner averages just 4.1 per game. The 6-10 D.J. Wilson leads the team at 5.3. 

For these reasons, Brooks said that the Ducks could cause more of a matchup problem for Michigan inside than vice versa despite UO not having senior forward Chris Boucher (knee injury) and his 6.1 rebounds per game. Bell averages 8.3 and 6-10 junior Kavell Bigby-Williams can crash the boards when he isn't in foul trouble. 

"Nobody in the Big Ten has a team like ours," Brooks said. "We're versatile, unselfish, a team that loves each other and plays for each other and I feel like we're going to give them a lot of fits...They've got a little size but I feel like me, Jordan and Kavell will hold our own. They've got to guard us. They've probably never guarded no one like Jordan, or like me, or like Velley."

Both teams are playing well. Both teams have earned the right to be here. Which team advances will come down to which team seizes the moment. 

"They got hot at the right time and their playing with a lot of confidence, and we've got to match that confidence," Dorsey said. 

Most of the country will probably be rooting for Michigan, given its backstory that Benson and Bell said caused them to root for the Wolverines. UO coach Dana Altman, however, said he hasn't had time to pull for anyone other than his own team. 

"I do think it's a great story though and how coach (John) Beilein says they have bonded and it's made them much closer," Altman said. "That is a unique story."

It's one that only can continue at Oregon's expense.