March Madness

Oregon Ducks must stop Anteaters to reach seventh Sweet 16

Oregon Ducks must stop Anteaters to reach seventh Sweet 16

Two of the hottest teams are about to meet in the round of 32.

Oregon is about as tough a 12-seed as you can draw in the NCAA Tournament. The Pac-12 Tournament champion Ducks are on a 9-game winning streak after bouncing the Wisconsin Badgers out of the Big Dance. Defeating the UC Irvine Anteaters sends Oregon to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time.

[READ The Ducks’ have an X-Factor, a commander and a King]

UC Irvine has won 17 games straight and successfully pulled off a big first round win over No.4 seed Kansas State.

Fun Fact: UC Irvine’s win over Kansas State was the biggest upset, by seed, so far and the Anteaters’ first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

Did you know? UC Irvine is the only team from California standing in the NCAA Tournament. 

Records: Oregon (24-12), UC Irvine (31-15)

All Hail Dana Altman:  The Ducks are 6-0 in first round NCAA Tournament games under coach Dana Altman. With one more win, Dana Altman will tie Ernie Kent as the winningest coach in Oregon history (235 wins). Oregon and Altman have finalized a contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Defensive surge: In the last nine games, Oregon is holding opponents to shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three-point range. Also, the Ducks have held opponents to 62 points or less during the winning streak, except the overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

High Flying Ducks:

During the nine-game winning streak, the Ducks are outscoring their opponents by nearly 18 points per game. 

Kenny Wooten swatted his way to four blocked shots in back-to-back games; the Pac-12 Tournament title game and NCAA Tournament opening round. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was the X-factor in Oregon’s win over Wisconsin; his alley-oops and posturizing blocks changed the game.

Wooten finished the tournament with 10 blocks, a new Pac-12 record and the Ducks set the Pac-12 Tournament record for blocks with 23.

Payton Pritchard has taken command of Oregon. The junior guard is averaging over 16 points per game with 47 assists and 24 steals during Oregon’s nine-game winning streak. His confidence soared vs. Wisconsin, leading all scorers with 19 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.

Louis King provides huge bursts of momentum with his clutch shooting. Against the Badgers he shot a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and finished the game with 17 points.

The 6-foot-9 forward scored in double figures in all but two Pac-12 games to become the No. 2 freshman scorer in conference play, averaging 14.5 points per game.

Anteaters to keep an eye on:

UC Irvine won the Big West championship with stingy on-ball defense that encourages the opponent to miss a lot of shots. UCI is top five nationally in field goal percentage defense and allows just 63.3 points per game.

Oregon will have its work cut our for them in the race for rebounds.  The Anteaters are plus 7.1 in the rebounding margin.

The Anteaters have one of the deepest benches and most experienced rosters in the sport. Nine different players have led the team in scoring this season and eight players average over five points per game.

UCI’s best scorers are Max Hazzard and Evan Leonard who both average double- figures with 12.5 and 11.1 points per game, respectively. 

6-foot-1 guard Evan Leonard was the star against K-State, scoring 19 points on just seven shots from the field, and a perfect 9-for-9 at the foul line.

Quotable: “We really jump on people,” Pritchard said. “I know (UC Irvine) is hot…We are going to be ready to play.“

How and where to watch

Time: Sunday, March 24, approximately 6:40 p.m.

Where: SAP Center, San Jose, California

TV: TBS

More Ducks:

Obama picks the Ducks to the Sweet 16

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The X Factor, the Commander and the King: Hot Ducks advance in the Dance

The X Factor, the Commander and the King: Hot Ducks advance in the Dance

The madness and drama continues for Oregon into late March. The No.12 seed Oregon Ducks upset No.5 seed Wisconsin, 72-54, extending their nine-game winning streak and advancing to the round of 32.

I guess what happens in Las Vegas doesn’t always stay in Las Vegas. Oregon is now 6-0 in first round NCAA Tournament games under coach Dana Altman. Once hoping for an NIT Tournament invite, improbably, the Ducks possess a shot at the Sweet 16 after securing the conference’s automatic NCAA bid by winning four-straight games in the Pac-12 Tournament.

"You know, we just weren’t on the same page,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said of Oregon’s recent surge. “And how quickly it changed.”

Once again, Oregon’s defensive prowess disrupted the opponent’s best player. The Ducks crowded, trapped and double-teamed Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, making it extremely difficult for the Badgers to get the ball to the four-year starting All-American. Oregon held Happ, maybe one of the best players in the entire tournament, to only four points on 1-of-3 shooting in the first half and 12 total points, eight rebounds, zero assists and five turnovers.

“I thought our guys really were aware of (Happ),” Altman said. “And then Kenny (Wooten) got a couple of his shots, and I think that helped us, put a thought in his mind.”

The first 20 minutes of Oregon’s first round NCAA Tournament game versus Wisconsin was as advertised; a tenacious defensive war, resulting in a 25-25 tie going into halftime.

Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player Payton Pritchard brought his hot streak into the NCAA Tournament. The junior put on a show and etched his name into Oregon history books; rising to fourth in UO career assists and in the Top 20 for career scoring.

Pritchard took command, impacting both sides of the floor; fearlessly driving to the basket, sinking three-pointers while also forcing turnovers and fighting for 50-50 balls. He led all scorers with 19 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.

Pritchard and freshman Louis King had 19 of the team's 25 first half points.

Enter perfect Paul White and X-factor Kenny Wooten.

After hurting his shoulder in a collision in the first half, Wooten started the second half in a big way; a vicious put-back dunk followed by another nasty dunk. It was only the beginning for the 6-foot-9 sophomore’s first NCAA Tournament game; his alley-oops and posturizing blocks changed the game.  Wooten finished with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, six rebounds and four recorded blocks (but I think it was five).

"I better see him on SportsCenter," senior White said of Wooten’s performance.

White had an uncharacteristic zero point first half before heating up in the second to score 14 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting.

King finished with 17 points and provided huge bursts of momentum with his 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc.

Oregon executed its game plan, forcing 13 Wisconsin turnovers (entered the game averaging 9.5) and scoring 12 points off those turnovers. Not to be overlooked, the Badgers shot an atrocious 20 percent from beyond the arc, going 6-of-30 for the game.

Oregon will get a shot at its seventh trip to the Sweet 16. The 13-seeded UC Irvine Anteaters are the only thing that stand in the Ducks way. UC Irvine is also fresh off an upset victory (over No. 4 seed Kansas State) and on its own winning streak (17 games).

“We really jump on people,” Pritchard said. “I know (UC Irvine) is hot…We are going to be ready to play.“

Obama picks the Ducks to the Sweet 16

Obama picks the Ducks to the Sweet 16

44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, made his NCAA Tournament bracket public.

A peek into his picks shows that Obama likes Oregon to beat Wisconsin and UC Irvine in the round of 32 to advance to the Sweet 16. 

His championship game is between Duke and UNC, with the Blue Devils winning it all. 

Did you have the same picks on your bracket?

What you need to know: Oregon Ducks basketball vs. Wisconsin Badgers

What you need to know: Oregon Ducks basketball vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Oregon is about as tough a 12-seed as you can draw in the NCAA Tournament. Pac-12 Tournament champions and on an 8-game winning streak, the Ducks’ defensive prowess has become highly entertaining to watch.

Fun fact: Oregon is the most bet on team AND the matchup has the lowest over-under line in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Defensive surge: In the last eight games, Oregon is holding opponents to shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three. Also, the Ducks have held opponents to 62 points or less during the winning streak, except the overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

Records: Oregon (23-12), Wisconsin (23-10)

History: Friday will mark the third time in the last six years that Oregon and Wisconsin have met on March 22 in the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin won the first two NCAA meetings and is 5-2 all-time versus the Ducks.

The Badgers have won 10 of their last 11 opening-round NCAA tournament games, holding teams to 55.9 points per game in the initial game.

All Hail Dana Altman: With four wins in the 2019 Pac-12 Tournament, Dana Altman became the winningest coach in Tournament history (19), surpassing Arizona’s Sean Miller. Oregon and Altman have finalized a contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

High Flying Ducks

When Payton Pritchard goes, the Ducks go: He is averaging 15.8 points per game with 39 assists, 22 steals and just 11 turnovers during Oregon’s eight-game winning streak.

This will be a particularly important game for the junior guard to stay hot; during the Pac-12 Tournament he had 22 assists with only four turnovers. Pritchard’s final bucket in the tournament was a nasty dunk and a smile that solidified him as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Louis King is coming off of a great Pac-12 Tournament; scoring in double figures in all four games and named to the Pac-12 all-tournament team.

The 6-foot-9 forward scored in double figures in all but two Pac-12 games to become the No. 2 freshman scorer in conference play, averaging 14.5 points per game.

Kenny Wooten swatted his way to four blocked shots in the Pac-12 Tournament title game. He finished the tournament with 10, a new Pac-12 record and the Ducks set the Pac-12 Tournament record for blocks with 23.

Badgers to keep an eye on

Wisconsin has one of the best players in the entire tournament in Ethan Happ. The four-year starter averages 17.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, which makes him the nation's only player averaging at least 16.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. He’s on constant double-double watch; he ranks 5th in the NCAA with 21 double-doubles, tying the Wisconsin school record that has stood for 50 years. 

Wisconsin led the Big Ten, allowing just 60.3 points per game during conference play. Overall, the Badgers are 9th in the NCAA allowing 61.4 points per game.

The Badgers like to control the inside. They outscored opponents in the paint every game except two in conference play.

Prediction: Oregon and Wisconsin have similarities in slow offensive pace and a stingy defense. I think this game will come down to turnovers and points off turnovers. The Ducks have excelled at forcing turnovers and average 7.8 steals per game. If Pritchard stays hot and Ducks can come up with a plan to slow down Happ, I predict Oregon will win its first round matchup.

How and where to watch

Time: Friday, March 22, 1:35 p.m

Where: SAP Center, San Jose, California

TV: TBS

More Ducks:

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Leaked NCAA women’s tournament bracket reveals Ducks as No. 2 seed

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Oregon most bet on team in the NCAA Tournament: Should you take the gamble?

Oregon most bet on team in the NCAA Tournament: Should you take the gamble?

The NCAA Tournament announcement comes with the excitement of filling out your bracket and maybe placing some bets.

Every year, March is a little mad, which causes fans to study and search for their Cinderella(s) and sure bets. Will Saint Mary’s pull the upset over Villanova? Are you picking UC Irvine to be the next UMBC? What about the Ducks?

No. 12 seed Oregon will play No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the first round of the South Region. The latest line has Wisconsin as a 1-point favorite and a 118 total point over/under (lowest of any first-round game in the NCAA Tournament). Turns out, the matchup has become the most bet on game in the NCAA Tournament. 

What should you do?  A look at recent history shows that putting money down for the Ducks has paid out. Oregon has made a drastic change in the last three weeks and are riding an eight-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament, including four victories to become Pac-12 Tournament champions. Oregon won six of those eight games by double-digits.

Most importantly (for your wallet) in each of those wins, Oregon has covered the spread.

3/16/19 Oregon vs. UW: The Ducks were 1.5-point favorites and beat the Huskies by 20 points.

3/15/19 Oregon vs. ASU: The Ducks were 2-point favorites and beat the Sun Devils by 4 points.

3/14/19 Oregon vs. Utah: The Ducks were 4.5-point favorites and beat the Utes by 12 points.

3/13/19 Oregon vs. WSU: The Ducks were 11.5-point favorites and beat the Cougars by 33 points.

3/9/19 Oregon at UW: The Ducks were 6-point under dogs and beat the Huskies by 8 points.

3/6/19 Oregon at WSU: The Ducks were 7-point favorites and beat the Cougars by 11 points.

3/2/19 Oregon vs. Arizona: The Ducks were 4.5-point favorites and beat the Wildcats by 26 points.

2/28/19 Oregon vs. ASU: The Ducks were 1.5-point favorites and beat the Sun Devils by 28 points.

 

Another note (for your wallet)… Every game has gone under, except the overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

3/16/19 Oregon vs. UW over/under 119.5 total points: Result: 116 points, under

3/15/19 Oregon vs. ASU over/under 134 total points: Result: 154 points, over

3/14/19 Oregon vs. Utah over/under 137 total points: Result: 120 points, under

3/13/19 Oregon vs. WSU over/under 137 total points: Result: 135 points, under

3/9/19 Oregon at UW over/under 124.5 total points: Result: 102 points, under

3/6/19 Oregon at WSU over/under 142.5 total points: Result: 133 points, under

3/2/19 Oregon vs. Arizona over/under 130 total points: Result: 120 points, under

2/28/19 Oregon vs. ASU over/under 138 total points: Result: 130 points, under

(All odds via Bovada)

Oregon’s defensive prowess has become highly entertaining to watch. But can the Ducks slow down Wisconsin’s top offensive player and four-year starter, Ethan Happ? Don’t come pounding on my door if Oregon loses or it goes over, but I had to point out the trend. If you’ve been betting the Ducks and the under, you’ve been making some major money.

Leaked NCAA women’s tournament bracket reveals Ducks as No. 2 seed

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USA Today Images

Leaked NCAA women’s tournament bracket reveals Ducks as No. 2 seed

Selection Monday came four hours earlier than expected, but we now know the Oregon women’s basketball team is dancing in the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon (29-4) will play as the No. 2 seed in the Portland Region, hosting 15-seed Portland State (25-7) in the first round on Friday at 6 p.m. Both the first and second rounds of the tournament will be held at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon’s 21-10 all-time against Portland State and 26-2 in the team’s last two meetings. If the Ducks advance Friday, they will face the winner of No. 7 Texas and No. 10 Indiana on Sunday in Eugene.

Oregon could quite possibly play in its home state all the way to the Final Four. The Moda Center in Portland will host two semifinal games on March 29 and the regional championship game on March 31.

Last season, the Ducks made it to the Elite Eight, falling to eventual NCAA champions, No. 1 Notre Dame. Oregon will once again look to make it to the Final Four, a feat the Ducks have yet to accomplish in program history. 

ESPN inadvertently leaked the NCAA Tournament bracket four hours early on Monday. As a result, teams around the country canceled their selection show watch party. Oregon was one of them.

Let the dance begin: Oregon Ducks named No.12 seed in south region

Let the dance begin: Oregon Ducks named No.12 seed in south region

Are you itching to get your March Madness bracket started? Just announced, the Oregon Ducks get an extra day and play close to home.

After crushing the Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies to take the Pac-12 Tournament crown and the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, Oregon (23-12) is the No. 12 seed in the South Region and will open the tournament against No. 5 seed Wisconsin (23-10).  The first round of the NCAA Tournament will be played on Friday at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif..

"The way this team has fought, it’s been special," junior guard Payton Pritchard said. "We’re just ready to make something happen". 

The Ducks have caught fire and are riding on a dangerous eight-game winning streak. Oregon reached the big dance for the sixth time in seven years after becoming the first team in Pac-12 Tournament history to defeat the top three seeds on the way to winning the title. 

During the CBS Selection Sunaday broadcast, Seth Davis called Oregon "maybe the hottest team in the country right now" and picked the Ducks to beat the Badgers. 

If Oregon wins, it will face the winner of the No. 4 seed Kansas State and No. 13 seed UC-Irvine on Sunday. 

Three Pac-12 teams landed in the NCAA Tournament; Oregon, Washington and Arizona State. Washington is the No. 9 seed in the midwest region playing No. 8 seed Utah State (26-8) in Columbus, Ohio on Friday. The winner will play No. 1 seed North Carolina or No. 16 seed Iona. Arizona State will play a First Four game vs. St. John's in the West region.