The NCAA Tournament always seems to have several teams that are a lot better than what their seeding claims. The Oregon Ducks are exactly one of these teams. The Ducks have been on fire recently winning nine of their last ten. Dana Altman, the Oregon head coach, leads another dangerous Oregon team into March Madness.
One of Oregon’s strongest traits is their depth in the 2020-21 season. All five starters are reliable scorers averaging ten or more points per contest. Also, every starter shoots 40% or better from the floor. All starters play 30+ minutes, which could be a negative or positive in tournaments. Either their starting lineup will eat teams alive, or they could become fatigued when a deep opposing bench is thrown at them.
Four of the five starters corral 4.7+ rebounds per game. In addition, four of the five starting Ducks shoot 70% or better from the free throw line. The Oregon starting lineup is extremely balanced in almost every aspect. Not only is the lineup as a whole balanced with each player providing their own unique strength, but each player is well rounded as well. Every starter excels in multiple facets of the game.
Oregon is a very frustrating defense to go against. Through hounding defense, the Ducks force 4.8 steals per contest. Not only are the Ducks 12th in steals per game, but they are also 16th with a steal percentage of 6.2%. Any team with loose ball-handling or turnover prone guards will be exposed by Oregon’s suffocating defense.
Furthermore, Oregon does not foul many shooters. Ranking 41st in the country, the Ducks only allow fifteen free throw attempts per game. This is another unique stat that could expose some teams. Without question, offenses with low efficiency will rely on shooting free throws and Oregon will not allow this.
Three Point Marksmen
Another dangerous characteristic in March is three point shooting. Many surprise teams in March are fueled by three point shooting, and Oregon could potentially be one of these teams. The Ducks are scary from outside, ranking 22nd in the country shooting 38% from three. Adding to Oregon’s balance, their whole starting lineup shoots 36.8% or better from three. Every starting Duck is a marksman that must be respected from deep.
The Ducks’ scoring leader is Chris Duarte contributing 17.3 points per game. The 6-foot-6 senior guard is extremely efficient shooting 53.3% on field goals and 44% from three. At a clip of 44%, Duarte is the most dangerous Duck from deep. Like the starting lineup, Duarte does not specialize in just three point shooting though. Averaging 17 points, 2 steals and shooting over 50% puts Duarte in elite company with James Harden and Zion Williamson.
— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) March 8, 2021
Oregon has seen their seeding slowly go up. Within the last few weeks, Oregon went from a 8-9 seed to a 6-7 seed. Most see the Ducks as a seven seed right now, but some bracketology experts are beginning to move them to the six line. With the Pac-12 Tournament approaching, Oregon has more games to win which could lead to the Ducks grabbing a five seed.
Oregon is another NCAA Tournament team that could create some chaos. The Ducks have high potential, and if their ceiling is reached they could make a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 run. Especially when considering they have a very wise coach in Altman. Balanced scoring, creating turnovers and three point shooting is always a good formula for winning in the NCAA Tournament.
All stats courtesy of ESPN, Kenpom and Team Rankings.