Record: 28-6 (14-4)
NCAA Tournament Seed: 1 (West)
How they got to the Big Dance
The Oregon Ducks had another very impressive season, including one of the most decorated résumés out of any team in the country. They went 11-2 against top-50 ranked teams in the nation. They also won all five of their games when playing against top-25 teams. Dating back to Jan. 14 they have won 14 of 16, including a current 8-game winning streak. Their 14-4 conference record earned them the No. 1 seed in the PAC-12 tournament, where they would defeat two top 15 teams. They won a close overtime game against No. 15 Arizona, followed by an absolute annihilation of No. 12 Utah 88-57 to claim their first conference title since 2013.
Why they’re a legitimate contender
As mentioned above, Oregon has proven time and time again this season that they can win games against tournament quality teams. Their last two games have been against teams who will be heading to the Big Dance. They’ll have plenty of momentum, especially after their 31-point victory over Utah. Oregon has been a part of the last three NCAA tournaments, but didn’t make it past the Sweet Sixteen in any of those years, but this year, that could change. They score 78.5 points per game and don’t make a ton of silly turnovers. On the defensive end, they rank 4th in the country with 5.8 blocks per game while forcing 7.6 steals per game. They have the ability to put up a lot of points while limiting their opponents. If Oregon can continue to play their best basketball against top-ranked teams, the Ducks could very well be a Final Four team.
Why they aren’t a legitimate contender
All six losses for the Ducks this year have come away from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. There aren’t too many weaknesses for this team, but those losses could foreshadow a possible upset. Three of their losses this year have been against teams ranked below 90th in the country. Also the Ducks play a certain style that could create potential matchup problems. They like to play small ball, using just one big man along with four guards/ smaller forwards. This could call for an early exit against teams who pride themselves on their size. Even though Oregon records the 4th most blocks in the country, they have been known to be overmatched on the glass. If they get matched up against a big team who can rebound the ball, Oregon’s style-of-play may not work as planned, and they’ll have to adjust midgame.
Player to watch- F Dillon Brooks
The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward is the Ducks’ leading scorer this year, averaging 16.8 points per game. He adds 5.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as well. He was also named to the Pac-12 All-Conference first team. He doesn’t shoot well from behind the arc, but he’ll do plenty of damage from mid-range. In the Pac-12 tournament he averaged just over 17 points per game shooting just over 41 percent from the field. He also shot very effectively from the free throw line, sinking 85.7 percent of his shots from the charity stripe. Although he isn’t known for 3-point shooting, he did sink half of his shots from behind in the arc in the tournament. If the Ducks want to make their first Final Four since 1939 (the year they also won their only championship), Brooks is going to have to lead them there.
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