Quack quack, the Oregon Ducks are going to Glendale, Arizona to play in the Final Four.
If this feels a little bit weird, it’s because it is. It’s not weird in the fact that Oregon is this far along in the tournament. They’re definitely a good enough team to be here. People may find it weird because the last time the Ducks made the Final Four was before World War II.
The last time Oregon was in the Final Four was in the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939. You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out that 1939 was a long time ago.
The University of Oregon, which has predominately been a football school, seems to have switched into a basketball-dominate school. The football program still continues to be the main breadwinner of Oregon athletics with their flashy uniforms and electrifying athletes. However, the basketball program has been high above the football program these past couple years in terms of success.
How did this happen? How did Oregon basketball, a rather quiet program up until the 2000s, become such a powerhouse?
It all starts with the coach Dana Altman, who has a program record of 187-69. The Ducks have made five straight NCAA tournament appearances in the last seven years since Altman became head coach. That includes an Elite Eight last year and a Final Four this year. The Ducks have also won two straight regular season Pac-12 titles.
Ernie Kent was Oregon’s coach before Altman. The Ducks only made the NCAA tournament five times in Kent’s thirteen years with only one regular season conference championship. The Ducks have become supreme under Altman in the ranks of college basketball.
Gonzaga is also making program history with their first Final Four apperance. So what makes Oregon’s run different? Oregon wasn’t picked by many to be here despite their three seed.
Gonzaga was expected to be here as they are almost every year now. Oregon’s road to Arizona was seen as more difficult than most.
The trouble started before the tournament for the Ducks. It was announced before the tournament that senior forward Chris Boucher would be out the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. What was seen as a huge blow to Oregon’s championship chances turned out to be just a bump in their road to the Final Four.
Oregon cruised past their first round opponent Iona 93-77 under the leadership of senior and Pac-12 player of the year Dillon Brooks. The clutch play from junior Jordan Bell and sophomore Tyler Dorsey helped the Ducks squeak by their next opponents. Oregon won their next games against Rhode Island and Michigan by a combined four points. Next in the Elite Eight was the gauntlet: Kansas.
The Ducks handled Kansas 74-60, who many thought to be the tournament favorite rather dominantly Saturday night.
Now the Ducks are in the Final Four, which is an incredible accomplishment for any basketball program. With a rather unusual Final four, the Ducks look to win their first championship since the inaugural tournament in 1939.
“From Our Haus to Yours”