Oregon Ducks looking forward to getting on the floor vs. Iowa

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Dylan Mickanen
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Oregon Ducks looking forward to getting on the floor vs. Iowa originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The No. 7 Oregon Ducks are the only team in the Round of 32 to have not played this weekend. 

Its first-round matchup against No. 10 VCU was canceled due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the Rams program causing health officials to call off the game for safety reasons. 

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks vs. VCU ruled a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols

"Kinda shocked... disbelief," said Dana Altman of his team's reaction. "Getting ready for a game but then you don't have one." 

For Will Richardson, the situation brought back some bad memories from last college basketball season.

"You kind of get that similar feeling," explained Richardson, comparing hearing VCU could not play to when the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament was canceled. "Like this is what we've been working for our whole season."

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast!]

The Ducks had practice after the news came in to "get the sweat out" and after it started slow, the team rebounded well before diving into Iowa preparation. 

"Immediately our team was focused... on the game ahead of us," said Richardson. 

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: betting odds, moneyline, tip-off time

Monday, Oregon will play its first game in 10 days since losing in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, a rare advantage this late into the NCAA Tournament. Iowa will have gone less than 48 hours since its previous contest, an 86-74 win over Grand Canyon. 

Altman dismissed that his team will be able to press the whole game due to the extra rest, telling the media he will see how the game goes and take it from there. He added Iowa has experienced ball handlers that may make his press less effective. 

Meanwhile, junior guard Will Richardson thinks his team will need to shake some nerves rather than rust. 

"I don't think there will be any rust," said Richardson. "We've been playing the whole season at this point. We have been practicing every day, going hard, treating every day like game day."

Richardson added there may be some nerves to begin the game but his team "will get over it." 

Once the Ducks take the floor and shake some nerves, they will still need to defeat its opponent, Iowa. Defeating the Hawkeyes starts and ends with dealing with National Player of the Year Luka Garza who averaged 23.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

"We haven't faced a scorer like Garza inside. Not many people have. He's a very talented inside player. Now he's shooting the three which makes him even tougher to guard," explained Altman. 

"We're a small team. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us."

Altman also dismissed the idea freshman Franck Kepnang would see ample time guarding Garza as the team's only option physique-wise to match up with the 7-footer. 

"You're talking about a very experienced four-year starter who has scored a million points going against a freshman. I'm not sure what Franck's role will be in the game and we'll see how the game is progressing," said Altman.

With matching up with him one-on-one seemingly playing with fire, expect the Ducks to put extra pressure on the perimeter while fronting Garza in the post. Then on the other end, Oregon can use Garza's lack of lateral quickness to expose him in space as he tries to guard Eugene Omoruyi. 

The No. 7 seed Oregon Ducks will take on the No. 2 seed Iowa Hawkeyes at 9:10 a.m. PT on Monday, March 22 on CBS.