Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
9 Washington State def. 8 Arizona State
7 Utah def. 10 Washington
6 Stanford def. 11 California
1 Oregon def. 9 Washington State
4 UCLA def. 5 Oregon State
2 USC def. 7 Utah
3 Colorado def. 6 Stanford
1 Oregon def. 4 UCLA
3 Colorado def. 2 USC
1 Oregon def. 3 Colorado
The Ducks had an okay start to the season but ended up struggling through January with a 2-2 record and five postponements. A dazzling 10-3 record against Q1 and Q2 opponents has helped to secure a spot in March Madness. For this tournament, however, Oregon will face a run of high-performing teams at their best. The Ducks lead the conference in effective field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage. Seniors Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi lead the squad 34 points per game. Both players were named first team All-Pac-12 and Duarte was named to the all-defensive team as well. The Ducks have won 10 of their last 11 and need to carry that momentum into the conference tournament. Oregon has already shown the firepower to beat strong opponents but a good performance here could be a sign of good things to come later in March.
The bubble has gotten pretty thin now that the end of the season is here. Stanford still has a decent shot at earning an at-large bid but that largely hinges on their performance in this tournament. Their opening round against California isn’t a shoo-in but the Cardinal swept their season series with them so that should be fine. After that, every expected matchup is against a likely tournament team giving Stanford and opportunity to prove themselves. The biggest challenge will be overcoming injuries. Daejon Davis and Bryce Wills were sat in the last game of the regular season and star player Oscar Da Silva has been hampered by a leg injury. At full strength, Stanford can beat Colorado and hang with just about anyone.
Matchup to Watch
Oregon vs UCLA
UCLA has an offense to rival Oregon’s with elite three-point shooting but in a much slower offense. The Bruins are a strong team but have run cold lately against a gauntlet of strong foes. Consecutive losses to Colorado, Oregon, and USC may have fans questioning this team’s ability to go far. In their last meeting between the Ducks and Bruins, both teams shot over 50% from the floor and swapped leads nine times. If another installment can be just as entertaining, this will easily be the game of the tournament. Overall, UCLA lacks quality wins but can turn things around in the Pac-12 tournament.
Featured Image courtesy of gostanford.com
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