Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Oregon Won’t Make The Big Dance
5 Reasons Oregon Won't Make The Big Dance
The Oregon Ducks' NCAA Tournament hopes were hanging by a thread late last season. The Ducks dropped two straight games to the Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes to round out their regular season, but that slide ultimately kicked Oregon into gear.
The Ducks punched their NCAA Tournament ticket by capturing the Pac-12 tournament title with three consecutive wins. Oregon carried that momentum into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 12 seed, knocking off Oklahoma State and St. Louis in a series of upsets before losing to eventual national champion Louisville in the Sweet 16.
This season, Oregon must dig out of a much deeper hole if they hope to make the tourney for the second year in a row. UO started the season as the No. 19 team in the country, picking up where it left off a year ago. The Ducks started the season 13-0, then Pac-12 play began. The team dropped five straight games right out of the gate and has never been able to truly right the ship since its dismal start. The Ducks are currently 17-8 this season and sit in 10th place in the Pac-12 standings with a 5-8 conference record.
Oregon will need to rediscover some of that form from a year ago if it hopes to play the major tournament come March. The Ducks have picked up two straight conference wins, which has placed them back squarely on the bubble, but can't afford any losses the rest of the way.
Here are the five reasons Oregon won't be making waves in the postseason this year.
5. No Signature Wins
Oregon's best win of the season came against Brigham Young at home in overtime. The Cougars currently have 10 losses. Otherwise, UO doesn't boast many quality wins. The Ducks are 0-3 against teams with a top-25 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and 1-3 against teams between a 26 and 50 RPI, which doesn't appeal to the selection committee.
4. Weak Scheduling
Oregon didn't go out of its way to schedule games against teams that would pad its tournament résumé this season. Wins against Georgetown or Illinois may have looked good entering the season, but neither team has a single-digit losses season. In fact, only one of the Ducks' non-conference opponents has less than 10 losses -- University of California-Irvine.
3. Longshot To Win The Conference Tournament
It's tough to say whether the Ducks would have made the NCAA Tournament a year ago had the team not won the Pac-12 tournament, but they were able to control their own fate.
This year, Oregon's situation is more dire than it was last season. The Ducks finished second in the conference and played a more difficult non-conference schedule last season. Oregon currently sits third from the bottom in the Pac-12 and will likely need to beat Arizona or UCLA to claim an automatic bid.
2. Struggle Defensively
Offense isn't an area of concern for Oregon. The team scores an average of 83.5 points per game, which is among the 10 best teams in the nation. Defense, however, is. The Ducks are 130th in Division I in scoring defense, yielding a total of 75.1 points per game. There's little room for error from here on out, and Oregon is going to need to make stops down the stretch in close games if they have any shot of making the tourney.
1. Can't Win The Close Ones
Oregon has had numerous opportunities to wrap up a résumé-building win this season, but has fallen short in most of them. The Ducks lost by two points to UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State, and are 3-5 in games decided by five points or less this season. With several must-win games upcoming against each of those aforementioned teams, Oregon desperately needs to reverse that trend.