Two teams on solid hot streaks are The St Louis Billikens and the Oregon Ducks. St Louis won the Atlantic 10 Championship last week in New York and are led by Junior Forward Dwayne Evans. More on Evans and the Billikens in a minute. I have always liked the Tournament because you get to learn something new.
According to Wikipedia a Billiken is a charm doll that was a national fad in 1911. A local sportswriter said the head football coach at the time John R. Bender had a resemblance to a Billiken, and the name stuck. I guess I could think of worse things that the coach could have resembled. Aside from the name, St Louis is for real, they are the #4 seed in the Midwest Region after finishing the regular season and the A-10 Turnament at 28-5.
The Billikens beat New Mexico State 64-44 on Thursday, Dwayne Evans had 24 points, the most by a single player for St Louis in the Tournament and one point off his career high. For the game he had 11 field goals and six rebounds to help his team to a school record 28th win on the season. They are also winners of five in a row.
St Louis is playing inspired basketball. Billikens Head Coach Rick Majerus died of heart failure in December and Interim Head Coach Jim Crews has said he hasn’t changed much in the way of the playbook since Majerus passed.
"“They have beaten good basketball teams and they have done it on a consistent basis. We’re going to have to play awfully well.” -Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman on facing St. Louis"
Oregon(27-8) came into Thursday’s game against Oklahoma State feeling disrespected as a 12 seed and that changed in a hurry. The Ducks held the lead for much of the game vs the Cowboys and Arsalan Kazemi helped the Ducks in robounding. For the game, Oregon had 58 on both sides of the ball, 17 from Kazemi alone. The Ducks shut down Big 12 Freshman and Conference Player of the Year Marcus Smart early, holding him to 6 points for the first half, and 13 for the game.
Oregon seems to have gotten stronger since their season ending losses vs Colorado and Utah, winning three in a row and taking the Pac 12 Title. Senior Carlos Emory and Freshman Damyean Dotson seem to have found their shot again. Look for this game to be a battle. If it comes down to a battle of the boards, I see the Ducks having an advantage. The Ducks right now are shooting the ball as good as the top teams in the Tournament. Oregon can’t get caught looking ahead and I’m sure Dana Altman will have them focused on Saturday.
Again, a good start won’t hurt and the Defensive play needs to continue to be aggressive.
The media and nation will be paying attention to this game, as the tip time is slated for 4:10pm PT Saturday on TBS, putting it in the Primetime window, a great place for the Ducks to be for this matchup.
Oregon Ducks This Week:NCAA Tournament: Oregon Freshman Damyean Dotson Leads Way To Sweet 16, Ducks Down St Louis 74-57 March Madness 2013: Win A $100 RetailMeNot Visa Gift Card From Autzen Zoo