The Oregon men’s basketball team (18-2, 7-0) has risen all the way to No. 10 in the latest AP top 25 poll. Following wins against the Washington schools last week, the Ducks have started 7-0 in conference play for the first time in school history.
The Ducks’ success has been due to two key aspects: having five players scoring in double figures and playing tenacious defense, outscoring their opponents by more then 13 points a game. That margin of victory is first in the Pac-12 and the Ducks are also first in the Pac-12 in rebounding.
After being picked seventh in the preseason Pac-12 poll, Oregon is now atop of the conference with a two game lead. Oregon received 969 total votes in the latest AP poll, after receiving just 19 total votes in the AP poll three weeks ago.
The Ducks moving up in the rankings was aided by seven teams ranked ahead of them losing last week. The Ducks passed three of those teams, but are still ranked behind number eight Arizona and number nine Butler. The Ducks have legitimate reasons to pass both those teams, as Oregon beat Arizona earlier in the season and Butler lost last week to La Salle.
One reason why the Ducks may be still ranked below Arizona and Butler is its RPI and strength of schedule. Oregon is ranked 270th in strength of schedule and 20th in RPI, which was hurt by a road loss to UTEP over winter break. Counter that with Butler and Arizona ranked 10th and 4th in RPI, respectively, it’s apparent why Oregon is still behind them.
However, despite their soft strength of schedule this season, Oregon is one of only three teams in the college basketball to beat two ranked teams on the road.
Oregon’s backcourt has been lead this season by two freshmen, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, but Artis sustained a left foot injury last week in practice that will keep him out at least two weeks. Artis leads the Ducks in assists and his presence was certainly missed last Saturday, when the Ducks made a season high 23 turnovers against the Huskies.
Oregon has also been lead by their senior leader E.J. Singler, the Pac-12’s active leader in points scored. The Ducks travels to the Bay Area this week for games against Stanford and Cal Berkeley, Wednesday and Saturday.