Oregon Ducks: 23-12, 10-8 in the Pac-12 Conference
Head coach: Dana Altman (9th season)
Players to watch: Payton Pritchard (12.7 PPG, 4.5 APG); Louis King (12.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG); Paul White (10.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG); Kenny Wooten (6.2 PPG, 2.0 BPG)
Season recap: Oregon wasn’t supposed to be dancing. Not after top recruit Bol Bol went down with a foot injury just nine games into his freshman campaign, leading to the Ducks losing eight games in arguably the worst major conference in the country. But after rattling off eight consecutive victories to end the season—including becoming just the second team to win four games in four days in the Pac-12 tournament—here they are.
Oregon’s run certainly wasn’t easy—the sixth-seeded Ducks had to fight through the top three seeds in the conference to secure their automatic bid. But behind fantastic play from their top three scorers—in addition to some help from key reserves like Miles Norris and Ehab Amin—they were able to get it done.
The Ducks are a slow team, ranking 305th in possessions per game. That number is one of the reasons Oregon boasts the 17th-ranked scoring defense in the country. But a slow pace of play isn’t the only factor, as the Ducks are also elite at defending the three-ball—forcing opponents to shoot 29.4 percent from deep, 11th in the nation. So if whoever Oregon faces in the first round struggles to find its offense in the early going and sees itself in a first-half deficit, don’t be surprised if the Ducks keep their March magic rolling into the Round of 32 and beyond.
How they make a run: Pritchard controls the pace of play, King and White are knock-down from deep and some spark off the bench helps Oregon steal a tournament win, or maybe even a few.
How they falter: The Ducks' offense is tired and uncomfortable following a demanding Pac-12 tournament run, and their season ends in a first-round blowout.