Oregon March Madness: Can Ducks Make NCAA Tournament With Loss to Huskies?

Getty Head coach Dana Altman, Paul White #13, Keith Smith #11 and Abu Kigab #24 of the Oregon Ducks react after a dunk by Troy Brown (not pictured) #0 against the Washington State Cougars.

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, the Ducks have wobbled to just a 22-12 mark and outside the NCAA Tournament picture. They control their own destiny Saturday though, as they play for an automatic bid against Washington in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship (10:30 p.m. EST, ESPN).

The Ducks and Huskies have split the season series as both took out the other on the road. The rubber match will be decided in Las Vegas, as Oregon has a chance to also finish the season on an 8-game winning streak.

Highlights: Oregon men's basketball closes season on four-game winning streak after taking down…Oregon built out a big first half lead and never looked back as it took down Washington. 55-47, Saturday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. Payton Pritchard had a team-high 16 points to lead the Ducks to their fourth-straight victory. Jaylen Nowell had 17 for UW while Matisse Thybulle tied Jason Kidd for No. 1 in…2019-03-10T05:59:45.000Z

Typically, a team with 20-plus wins in a power conference would be an easy call for a spot in the tournament. Fellow bubble contenders such as Ohio State and Florida both have just 19 but are still projected at-large teams.

Can Oregon make the tournament even with a loss tonight? Let’s take a look at the March Madness possibilities and the Ducks’ resume, including a peek at best wins and losses.

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 would be in a much better position.

They do 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 hurts, and victories over potential tournament teams in Washington and Arizona State doesn’t offset that.

Oregon Bracketology Breakdown

ESPN’s John Gasaway doesn’t even list Oregon as one of his teams with “work to do” in his most recent bubble watch.

“Oregon beating Washington in the Pac-12 final would take away another (at-large) bid,” he states bluntly.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi leaves Ducks out of his “Next Four Out”  in his latest Bracketology. That means at least 8 teams are ahead of them in the bubble pecking order.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports presents a similar scenario, not even naming them on his “First 4 Out.” He does mention Oregon in his assessment of Arizona State.

The Sun Devils avoided another bad loss with an 83-72 victory over the Bruins. They will now face surging Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. The Ducks are looking like a possible bid-stealer, and if they succeed, it might be Arizona State’s bid they steal.

Bracket Matrix aggregates 124 prognostications from across the internet. The Ducks appeared on just 10 of them, averaging out to a 11.5. That almost would assuredly mean a First Four berth.

The writing seems to be on the wall. The top-2 bracketologists see Oregon well outside the tournament picture. That makes the task at hand very simple for Altman and company:

Beat Washington.