Coming off two disappointing losses to end the season, Oregon will have to rebound when they start their postseason Thursday in the Pac-12 tournament.
Oregon (23-8, 12-6) led in the Pac-12 standings for most of the season but was clearly fatigued and came out empty against Utah and Colorado last week. Oregon finished the season third in the Pac-12 behind the UCLA Bruins and Cal Bears.
A good sign for the Ducks is that, while they dropped the final two games of the season against Colorado and Utah, they haven’t lost more than two games in-a-row during the entire season.
Oregon will play either Washington or Washington State on Thursday in the second round, which should prove good for Oregon as they swept both schools this season. Oregon’s sweep of the Washington schools was its first since the 1989-1990 season.
Oregon needs to win at least one game in the Pac-12 tournament to feel comfortable about receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament. This year’s Oregon team compares well to the Washington Huskies 2011-2012 team that missed the tournament despite finishing atop the Pac-12 conference at 24-11, 14-4. Washington lost in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament last year to Oregon State and had to accept an invitation into the NIT.
If Oregon does beat one of the Washington schools in the second round, they might face the Cal-Berkeley Golden Bears in the third round. Cal swept Oregon during the regular season, but Cal won only both games by a combined six points.
Oregon’s Keys to the Tournament:
Free throw shooting
Point guard play.
Led behind its great depth in the frontline with Arsalan Kazemi, Tony Woods, Ben Carter and Waverly Austin, Oregon has been great in rebounding for most of the season. The Ducks had the 20th best rebounding margin in the nation, and first in the Pac-12.
Free throw shooting has also been a struggle for the Ducks. Shooting at a 70.5 percent clip, Oregon is 136th in the nation in from the line. Oregon shot fifty percent from the free throw line in their final two games. Starting point guard Dominic Artis is shooting 68.6 percent from the free throw line and backup point guard Johnathan Loyd is shooting an even worse 57.8 percent. In the three games since Artis returned to the lineup, he has averaged 5 points and 1.6 assists a game. If Artis can get back into his mid-season groove during the tournament, the Ducks will fare well.
Oregon has the tools to do it, but they have to put it all together and perform in the tournament. This will be a make or break weekend for the Ducks that could decide their tournament lives.