The first day of the NCAA tournament proved to be full of upsets and nail biting games, but the Oregon Ducks avoided both on the way to a dominant 87-68 victory over Brigham Young University. This win was full of positives for Oregon, and it now appears that they are on the way to making a deep, and somewhat surprising, run this spring.
There was little doubting throughout the game that the Ducks were the dominant team, as they came out running and didn’t stop until the final whistle. In the first half of the game, Oregon took control in a way that a 39-31 halftime scoreline did not properly indicate, and by the end of the game, had seen 11 different players score the ball. Throughout the game, the Ducks showed a team-wide ability to crash the rim, dictate the tempo of the game, and fight through a wretched 2-13 mark on three-point field goals to put in an extremely dominant performance.
What is most encouraging from this game in terms of moving into the Round of 32 and beyond is that its shows Oregon really isn’t dependent on one guy to put the scoring load on their shoulders. During the game against BYU, Jason Calliste, Joseph Young and Elgin Cook took the lead, combining to score 56 points on 16-of-24 shots, yet in future games, it is clear none necessarily has to rack up massive points totals to win games.
Still, the likes of Mike Moser, Damyean Dotson, Richard Amardi, Johnathan Loyd and Dominic Artis all averaged more than 15 minutes per game this year, and could conceivably be the next guy to score 20 points in future games. This is a level of depth that is a great and extremely rare thing to have for any college basketball team, and helps the Ducks as they attempt to out-run, out-score and generally tire out opposing teams.
During the Round of 32, the Ducks will certainly face a much tougher test in the form of the Wisconsin Badgers, but this is far from a death spell. This is in part because the Badgers have struggled a bit during the last two weeks, but more so a result of Oregon having the ability to score big point totals and pick up wins against the best of the best.
Look for the Ducks to continue to surprise people as they move forward, and to make a run as far as the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.