Although ESPN has gained a reputation of being the “TMZ of Sports,” it still puts out valuable information. For example, NCAA Basketball analyst Joe Lunardi updates a bracket with his relatively accurate current standings for March Madness.
As of today, Lunardi has your Oregon Ducks (20-8) as the 11th seed in the Western division of the bracket. The Ducks’ record, although better than some of the teams ranked in the AP Top 25, comes with an asterisk. This Oregon team is 1-4 against ranked teams and 2-6 against RPI (Rating Percentage Index) Top 50 teams. In short, the Ducks have stacked up a lot of wins, but very few have come against quality opponents.
Now if they stayed as the 11th seed, that would mean Oregon would play No. 21 ranked SMU (22-5) in the first round of the tournament. Although Lunardi has Oregon has a bubble team, the assumption is that if the Ducks win out they should be guaranteed a spot in the tournament.
Again, this is all hypothetical until the actual bracket is released, but just for fun let’s play it out. Assuming the higher ranked team wins, Oregon’s path to the final four would look like this:
No. 21 SMU (22-5)
No. 12 Iowa State (20-6)
No. 7 Arizona (24-3, 2-0 against Oregon)
No. 3 Gonzaga (28-1)
Of course every game would be tough, but the one that should stick out in Oregon fans’ minds should be the matchup against Arizona. The Wildcats have already beaten the Ducks twice this year, beating them especially bad (90-56) when Oregon traveled to Arizona. So is this an easy path? Definitely not. However, as of right now, the Ducks would miss in my mind the four unbeatable teams (Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Virginia). Although it’s hard to imagine this year’s team making a deep run, Duck teams in the past have surprised us.
What do you think the Ducks will do in this year’s tournament? Make your predictions in the comment section below!
Top Photo from en.wikipedia.org