Oregon brought in a stellar recruiting class this past offseason, as the Ducks were gunning to return to the Final Four just like in 2017. The nation’s No. 3 class included 5-stars in center Bol Bol and forward Louis King.
Due to Bol’s season-ending foot injury and King’s torn meniscus, Oregon wobbled to just a 19-12 mark entering this past weekend’s Pac-12 Tournament. The Ducks soared from there, ripping off 4-straight wins over Washington State, Utah, Arizona State and regular-season champion Washington to clinch an automatic bid.
For their efforts, head coach Dana Altman and company earned a No. 12 seed in the South Regional, setting up a matchup with No. 5 seed Wisconsin in San Jose.
Let’s do a quick review of the Ducks’ season before diving into their NCAA Tournament predictions and picks.
Oregon NCAA Tournament Resume
The Ducks really needed all hands on deck in the non-conference, but they missed King as he recovered from his injury. They recorded a 9-4 mark, including an ugly loss to the NET’s No. 228 team in Texas Southern.
The 3 other blemishes came against No. 4 Houston (by 4), No. 39 Baylor (by 10) and No. 44 Iowa (by 8). Flip one of those results, and Dana Altman’s crew might not have needed a tournament title to claim a spot in the tourney.
They also boast a 15-point win over No. 43 Syracuse.
A plus-.500 mark in conference play is usually a good sign, but this is an unusually weak Pac-12. Ken Pomeroy ranks it as the No. 7 league nationally.
Getting swept by Oregon State and UCLA aren’t good looks, but an 8-game winning streak to end the season shows the potential of this squad when fully gelled.
Oregon NCAA Tournament Predictions and Picks
The Ducks have never lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament under Altman. That includes a Sweet 16 appearance in 2013, an Elite 8 as the 1-seed in 2016 and a Final Four in 2017. The other two tournaments saw opening round triumphs over BYU in 2014 and Oklahoma State in 2015.
The best way to describe Oregon is a classic “3-and-D” approach. The Ducks will rely on a defense that ranks No. 18 in efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. In the last 8 contests, the Ducks held Arizona State (twice), Arizona, Washington (twice), Utah and Washington State under 55 points.
On the other side of the ball, four players in the main rotation (Louis King, Payton Pritchard, Paul White and Victor Bailey) can over 33 percent of their 3-point attempts. King and Pritchard are tied for the team lead with 12.7 points a contest.
It’ll be a defensive slugfest with the Badgers, as both teams rank in the top-20 defensively. In addition, Altman will have to find some way to deal with star center Ethan Happ, who is a double-double waiting to happen.
Guards D’Mitrick Trice and Brad Davison, as well as forward Nate Reuvers all can triples at above 36 percent.
Oregon lost to Wisconsin in the second round back in 2015 during the Badgers’ run to the National Championship final. The Ducks are not facing the same offense as back then, and with their own offense starting to manufacture points, Oregon can win a rock fight.
Win there, and the Ducks would face the winner of Kansas State and UC Irvine.
OddsShark gives Oregon +10000 odds to win the national title.