The Oregon Ducks (23-6, 12-4 Pac-12) are currently tied with the UCLA Bruins (22-7, 12-4 Pac-12) in the race for the Pac 12 regular season title. While the bigger story is the actual development of the Oregon basketball program, adding the regular season trophy to the award case would be nice for their budding program.
Both teams have two games left on their docket. UCLA’s is far easier. All they have left is a pair of Washington schools–Washington State Cougars and the Washington Huskies–so their road to Pac 12 glory is paved with cupcakes. Oregon has a much tougher task than that ahead of them. The Ducks have to play at the Colorado Buffaloes and at the Utah Utes. Their path, while not paved in cupcakes, is still one they should come away from with victories.
Oregon doesn’t “need” to win out to further their development as a program. This season’s success will end up being gauged on how well they perform in the postseason. In a recurring theme while breaking down team’s towards the end of the year, the fact is that conference titles mean far less than they previously had. With conference realignment and nobody remembering who actually won any, winning the regular season title is nice but still comes in third place of importance behind the NCAA Tournament and conference tournament titles.
The Ducks’ road is far harder and odds are likely that the two programs will be tied at the end of the regular season. But hey, if Oregon can be named in the same breath as a UCLA program, they should take it. It isn’t every year that we see two programs–one storied, one not–competing for the same thing down the stretch while both are headed in different directions.
UCLA fans are calling for Ben Howland’s job and the program’s future is pretty uncertain. For Oregon, their future seems destined to be filled with great things. How bright is their future, exactly? As bright as those uniforms they rock.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone