Prove Your Worth
Let’s get one thing out of the way– Oregon earning a #12 seed in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a joke.
Whether or not the NCAA selection committee started their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations before sorting out the brackets remains to be seen, although many are starting to think they may have had a few Guinness pints at hand while filling out their selections.
Not only were the Ducks a #12 seed, UCLA–a team Oregon had just shredded in the tournament–earned a 6 seed.
The other Pac-12 teams to be selected to the tournament were California (12 seed), Arizona (6 seed), and Colorado (10 seed).
Still, while the Ducks were somewhat snubbed with their selection, they are going dancing for the first time since 2008 and are primed to prove their worth in the tournament.
Let’s recap how they got there.
There was one point in the season Oregon was flying high and ranked No. 10 in the nation. At that time, the Ducks had taken care of business against UNLV, Arizona, UCLA, and every Pac-12 team they had faced.
Unfortunately for Oregon, their freshman star Dominic Artis would go down with a foot injury and miss the next nine games, a span where the Ducks would regress some.
Losing games to Stanford, California, and Colorado, Oregon slipped from the rankings and began to show signs of weakness. Though they did manage to get back on track against Utah, Washington, and Washington State, they were clearly a different team after Artis’ injury.
After positioning themselves to at least tie with UCLA for a share of the Pac-12 conference title in the last week of the season, Oregon dropped a pair of games against Colorado and Utah, losing their regular season title as well as falling to the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
After a slow start against the Washington Huskies that saw them down towards the end of regulation, Oregon bounced back and Arsalan Kazemi had a huge overtime period as the Ducks trounced their rivals for the third time this season, officially sweeping the Dawgs in both football and basketball.
It was just the first time since the 1950′s that Oregon managed that accomplishment.
Once the Ducks got past Oregon, they started off slow against Utah but once again hit their stride and ended up blowing the Utes out by a score of 64-45.
And last night, in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game, the Ducks met the Bruins for the second time this year in a game that would decide who was the better of the two teams.
The game got off to a groggy start, with both Oregon and UCLA failing to hit almost any shots. That quickly changed, however, as Damyean Dotson, E.J. Singler, and Johnathan Loyd began stroking the ball and nailing three-pointers.
UCLA also found their own rhythm, though they would see themselves to a nine-point deficit at half.
And though the Bruins would threaten the Ducks in the second, Oregon used a strong effort by Loyd, Kazemi, and Carlos Emory to pull away from UCLA and give the Ducks their first Pac-12 Tournament Championship since 2008.
Loyd, who is from Las Vegas, won tournament MVP and was extremely productive even with Artis back in the lineup.
As was mentioned earlier, Oregon earning a #12 seed is a complete joke. While they did struggle without Artis and dropped games to Colorado and Utah to close out their regular season, the way the played in the tournament–especially against Utah and UCLA–should have given the selection committee enough of a resume to see that the Ducks deserved a better seed than #12.
As it stands however, Oregon will play Oklahoma State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a game that is to be played in San Jose. The contest, scheduled for Thursday, seems to at least play into Oregon’s favor in terms of audience attendance.
With a strong fan base in the Bay Area, expect many Duck fans to turn out for their game against the Cowboys and give Oregon somewhat of a home court advantage. Aside from a home feel to the game, the Ducks matchup fairly well against OK State.
Look for them to use their advantage on the inside with Kazemi and Tony Woods to really attack the Cowboys and create more opportunities for their perimeter shooters.
If anything, the Ducks should have quite a bit of momentum and be playing with a chip on their shoulder in this contest.
No matter how this game fairs–and make sure to check back for a more detailed analysis later on this week–it’s great to see Oregon in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament once again.
Here’s a pint to hoping they make it to round two!