No Chris Boucher? No problem. No. 3 Oregon (32-5) is back in the Elite Eight for the second straight this season, this after edging No. 7 Michigan, 69-68, in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.
“Dana Altman is the most underrated coach in all of college basketball,” former NBA player and current Pac-12 Network analyst Eldridge Recasner said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The guy doesn’t beat his chest and talk about how great he is. He doesn’t talk about how great his players are. But you look up every year, he’s right there in the thick of things. I thought they should have made the Final Four last year, and here they are again in the Elite Eight with another chance to get there.”
Oregon will face No. 1 Kansas (31-4) in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Sean Miller’s quest for a Final Four will have to wait at least another year. No. 2 Arizona fell to No. 11 Xavier, 73-71, in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, as the Musketeers overcame a late eight-point deficit.
“Coach Miller outsmarted himself trying to play match-ups,” Recasner said. “Going to (Dusan) Ristic down the stretch, in my opinion, was a bad move. When you’ve got a lottery pick in Lauri Markkanen on the floor and then a guy who’s had a great game like Allonzo Trier, I understand the matchup deal, but that hasn’t been Ristic’s game all season, getting big buckets one-on-one. I think Sean Miller kind of outsmarted himself there. Chris Mack, what can you say? A hell of a coach. I think a guy that’s probably going to take off for a much bigger job after his coaching performance tonight.”
Xavier (24-13) will face No. 1 Gonzaga (35-1) in the Elite Eight on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. ET.
UCLA (31-4), meanwhile, squares off against No. 2 Kentucky (31-5) in the Sweet 16 on Friday. It’s a star-studded matchup, but Lonzo Ball figures to be the best player on the floor.
“That kid is just special,” Recasner said. “When I think back over all the guys I’ve seen that can get the ball to people right where they need it, right on time, the only guy I can think of that did it as well as that kid is doing it is Jason Kidd. He’s like Jason Kidd with a not-so-great-looking jump-shot. But the kid’s a stud.”