Why This Year’s Ducks Will Win the National Championship

I know what you’re thinking, and you are not wrong for thinking it. Seeing the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team playing for a National Championship is about as fathomable as seeing a funny SNL skit with Kenan Thompson. In fact, the last time Oregon basketball played in a National Championship game was March 27, 1939 (a game they won).

They played a total of three games to win that title, and they have never won more than three games in a tournament in the 77 years since then. So what on God’s green turf makes this team so different? Okay, I will let the cat out of the bag … here it is – talent. This should not come as a big surprise to those of you who have watched the Ducks play at any point during this magical season.

Jordan Bell
Photo by Kevin Cline

Not only is this group the most talented crew of individual ballplayers that have ever put on an Oregon uniform, they are also the best team.
There are eerily striking similarities to the 2016-2017 Ducks and the national title winning teams of the last three years.

1) The last three winners all had at least one future-NBA player on their roster. Oregon has that in Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell, Chris Boucher, and Tyler Dorsey (take your pick).
2) All three championship teams made it to their Conference Championship game only to lose. With Arizona looking for vengeance from a humiliating loss earlier in the season to the Ducks and UCLA playing out-of-this-world right now, Oregon is most likely to experience a similar fate which will only renew their focus going into the Big Dance.
3) Each of the three previous championship winners also had length and athleticism with at least five players standing 6’6 or taller. Not only do the Ducks have size, but they also boast two of the nation’s top shot blockers and have blocked more shots than any team in the country.
4) Former National Champions Connecticut, Duke and Villanova all showed a balanced offensive attack by having four players who averaged in double figures in scoring. Oregon has five.

Now that I have made you stop and think by throwing stats at you, here is some more for you to chew on …

Dana Altman ranks 11th on the list of winningest active D-1 coaches. All ten coaches ahead of him have been to final fours and six have won championships. He is due.

Championship teams win close games and the Ducks have won six by 5 points or less (although many of their games have been won by 15 or more points).

Altman-coached Oregon teams have shown steady improvement every year, and this year’s edition is the most electrifying and exciting to watch. They are also the deepest, most talented, and best defensive Duck team we have seen in years. Not to mention that with Dillon Brooks emerging as the stone cold killer with ice in his veins, this team is poised to make a deep tourney run and, yes, win it all.

Danny Harris
Winchester, Virginia

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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Danny Harris

Danny Harris

Danny Harris still remembers all the sights, sounds, and smells of MacArthur Court on March 12, 1994. It was his first Ducks basketball game. He has been a die-hard fan ever since and still bleeds duck green. He grew up in Springfield, Oregon and now resides in Winchester, Virginia with his beautiful wife. He has coached and kept stats for basketball teams, but his passion is writing. He also enjoys the great outdoors and is a bit of a movie buff.

17 Responses

  1. Platypus says:

    The Ducks have had a tendency to play to their competition, last week was a good example and the Arizona game was another. So based on that factor, I agree they should win the Natty. Their best games came against the best teams (minus Baylor).

  2. John McDonald says:

    Danny,
    Very nice article, I enjoyed it very much.
    The Ducks biggest obstacle is not only what seed they get but most important that they are in the West Region(weakest of the Regions). Either a #1 or #2 in the West would make it a much easier task to reach the final four. To do this they will have to win the Pac-12 Tournament or at worst make the finals. I am most afraid of UCLA as they have improved so much over the season and they UCLA should easily beat Arizona. The worst outcome would to be #2 seeded but shipped to another Region. Gonzaga is overrated and the Ducks will beat them easily so a #2 seed in the West would be a better outcome then being shipped to another region even as a #1 seed. Gonzaga has a much lower RPI and have only played one close, pressure filled game(BYU) and lost it. They may not even get to the finals of the West.

    • John–you bring up a good point about the strength of the west, as Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona could be in the Final Four if all played to their potential, was positioned right for the upsets, etc. It is a low probability, but this is the best year for this to occur.

      I think Gonzaga is legit; they simply had to get a “loss” out of their system and it sharpens them to be better; Oregon will have their hands full with them if they meet.

    • Danny Harris says:

      Thank you John! I am glad that you enjoyed the article. I think the Ducks will get to the PAC 12 title game. Not sure what will happen once they get there, but I do believe that what happens in the conference tournament will catapult them to success in the Big Dance. Depending on where UCLA and Zona are placed and seeded, we could see three Pac-12 teams in the Final Four. Wouldn’t that be something?

  3. John McDonald says:

    Danny,
    Very nice article, I enjoyed it very much.
    The Ducks biggest obstacle is not only what seed they get but most important that they are in the West Region(weakest of the Regions). Either a #1 or #2 in the West would make it a much easier task to reach the final four. To do this they will have to win the Pac-12 Tournament or at worst make the finals. I am most afraid of UCLA as they have improved so much over the season and they UCLA should easily beat Arizona. The worst outcome would to be #2 seeded but shipped to another Region. Gonzaga is overrated and the Ducks will beat them easily so a #2 seed in the West would be a better outcome then being shipped to another region even as a #1 seed. Gonzaga has a much lower RPI and have only played one close, pressure filled game(BYU) and lost it. They may not even get to the finals of the West.

  4. John McDonald says:

    You may be right, but I still believe Gonzaga has not had to face excellent teams back to back to back as they will in the NCAA Tournament. Your team can’t be at their best every game; practically every NCAA Champion has had a bad game in the tournament but still persevered and were able to win. In a sense you have to be a little lucky on occasion. I guess my thinking goes back to the 1980 Oregon State team that went 26-0 before losing their last game of the season. Although still ranked #1 in the tournament they promptly lost their first game of the tournament against the lowest ranked team. I believe the pressure and hangover from that loss in the final game of the season caused a letdown.

    • OK…now THAT is a nice catch from 37 years ago. I was in Corvallis when all that happened as Ralph Miller teams dominated during the season, and then choked to the Ball States, the Lamar’s, etc. in the NCAAs.

      Now you will make it interesting for me to watch the ‘Zags that much closer–thanks.

  5. John McDonald says:

    It would be a first I am sure.

  6. fairweatherfowl says:

    This article is so popular that it just popped up on Google News. Fishduck is back, big time.

  7. Stagamancer says:

    I expect articles on FishDuck to throw shade at the Huskies and Beavers, but what has Kenan Thompson ever done to anyone?

  8. Florida Duck says:

    I cannot agree with your article whole-heartedly for a couple of reasons. Yes they have a lot of talent, but only once have they all played well during the same game. At times Boucher looks completely lost and out of control on the court. When up against a power center, like last week against Stanford, they can make that player appear to be superman. If I was going to say what makes me think they could win the championship, I would have to say more about their team defense. Last year against Oklahoma they allowed one player to beat them, while on the other end of the court they couldn’t get their offense going. It is like the old saying, Live by the Three and Die by the Three, and that is my biggest fear. Can Oregon win it all? I believe they can if Coach Altman can keep them focused on a game to game basis.

    • Danny Harris says:

      I agree that there have not been many games where they all put it together at the same time. I believe that is what makes them even more dangerous. If they can focus and all play to their potential at the right time, it will be something to behold. Their team defense has also been much improved, you are spot on with that assessment. It is so good to see that there is a Duck fan in Florida! Yay for east coast Ducks!!!

  9. Pete Trippens says:

    GO DUCKS

  10. oregonxyz says:

    I want to see what they do vs Louiville before I start drinking green koolaid

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