I do not believe anyone who said they saw that Oregon’s 88-57 dismantling of Utah coming in advance. Most of us were concerned about the opposite, as it is very hard to beat a team for a third time, especially when the differences between teams is so close. The trip to the Bay Area (losing both games) is what came to mind for many …
The Ducks did not start out with the same fierce intensity as playing Arizona, (they learned how intense they could get in the first half of that game) and then realized about halfway through the first half that yes, they can drive easily on Utah’s big men.
They also notched up the defensive pressure that I have not seen from this team until the Arizona semi-final game of the Pac-12 Tournament. The steals, the balls poked out, the flurry of rapid switching of men in Oregon’s match-up zone defense was an entertaining sight rarely seen of Duck basketball. It was a tremendous example of how the defense supplied the offense with easy baskets to build a lead over the Utes quickly.
For many of us long-time Oregon fans – it was thrilling to learn that Elgin Cook was named the tournament MVP, while watching the emergence of Tyler Dorsey over the last three weeks. Dorsey has realized his driving ability to the basket, which opens up his mid-range shots and deadly threes that much more.
The body language of Utah was “we can’t beat this team” shortly after halftime as it became apparent that not only were the Utes unable to cut into Oregon’s lead, but actually unable to stop the Ducks from adding to it.
Kevin O’Neill of the Pac-12 Network shocked everyone on the set when he declared that,
“Oregon is going to the Final Four!”
Immediately the discussions of the type of team match-ups that could prevent the Ducks from attaining that lofty goal, and O’Neill came back and stated,
“I don’t care who they’re playing; I’ll put them up against anyone right now!”
My feathered friends … it is rare enough for our mens basketball team to win a conference regular season championship, as this is only the second time since World War II. However to win both the regular season championship and the Pac-12 Tournament championship? It has never happened, and thus we must savor this special team while we can!
There are a ton of factual reasons why Oregon should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, especially when comparing RPI, and strength of schedule of the other top seed candidates. My gut feeling is that although the Ducks deserve it – east coast bias (the committee is in New York deciding the field) may prevail, and thus I place it as a 50/50 shot at Oregon’s first No. 1 seed.
Find out today at 2:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Selection Show and enjoy the Pac-12 highlights below!
Top Photo from Pac-12 Video