Oregon Basketball: Predicting Whether Ducks Will Go Dancing and How Far

Josh SachnoffContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2013

Oregon Basketball: Predicting Whether Ducks Will Go Dancing and How Far

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    Is this real life? Just three years into head coach Dana Altman’s coaching tenure with the  Oregon Duck  basketball team, he has put them back in the national spotlight.

    The Ducks made their way into the Top 10 this week for the first time since 2007. The Ducks were not predicted to do much this season in the Pac-12 and figured to be NIT bound again.

    This explosive Duck squad has proved its doubters wrong so far this season with an impressive 18-2 record.  

    Oregon has not started a season off this well since the 2006-2007 season. They also have not started   7-0 in conference play since the 1925-1926 season. The Ducks have also defeated Washington 81-76 on Saturday to extend the home-game winning streak to 20 at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Scenarios

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    Oregon is in a very good position to win the Pac-12 Conference right now with a two-game cushion over ArizonaArizona State and UCLA in conference play.

    As of now, the Ducks need to win their last nine of 11 games to win the Pac-12 regular-season title.

    With conference games continuing through the beginning of March, teams like Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA will still need to play each other again. This results in more losses for these teams and puts Oregon in even better shape.

    Oregon may end up only needing eight more wins to take home the Pac-12 regular-season title. 

    The Ducks have been tough at home this season and should win their last five home games. Where the Ducks could slip up might be on the road at Stanford this Wednesday, at Washington on February 13 and at Colorado on March 7. 

    If the Ducks happen to lose these three games, they could lose another three games and still make the NCAA Tournament. If they do, they would still be a lock with a 23-8 regular-season record. 

    The Ducks currently have an RPI of 20 and have key wins against UNLV, Arizona and UCLA. The wins against UNLV and UCLA were both on the road. 

Why the Ducks are so talented

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    The Ducks have been led this season by seniors E.J. Singler and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi

    Singler is a floor leader for this squad and has averaged 11.2 points per game. He makes key shots when the game is on the line, such as in the Washington State game, when he hit two three-pointers in the second half that put the Ducks in striking position to take the lead.

    Singler’s greatest strength, though, is when he is at the free-throw line. Singler is shooting 82.5 percent from the charity stripe this season. 

    Kazemi has been one of the best additions to this Duck squad.

    He is physical on the boards and a majority of the time, he comes away with the rebound. Kazemi has averaged 9.6 rebounds per game and has recently become a scoring threat as well.

    Kazemi has averaged 13 points in Oregon’s past three games. 

Why the Ducks Are so Talented

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    Other key players for this Duck squad have been true freshman guards Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis.

    Dotson has averaged 11.7 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Dotson had big games at Oregon State on January 6 and at USC on January 17, where he scored 21 points and 16 points, respectively.

    Artis is currently out indefinitely with a foot injury but has been key to the Ducks success by averaging 10.2 points per game. Artis is an up-and-coming star and has hit clutch shots in close ball games.

    The rest of the Oregon supporting cast has consisted of senior center Tony Woods, senior forward Carlos Emory and junior guard Johnathan Loyd.

    Woods has been a force down low by averaging 10.9 points per game and 1.3 blocks per game. Woods has given opposing offenses nightmares with his physical defensive play. 

    Emory has averaged 10.2 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. Emory has been notorious this season for his game-changing slam dunks. 

    Lastly, Loyd is that scrappy 5’8" player that will go all out for loose balls and give opposing players a run for their money. Loyd is one of the leaders on this team, even if he doesn't look good on the stat sheet. 

Reasons Why the Ducks Have Been Successful This Season

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    1. Depth and height—What makes Oregon different this season is the depth and height they have. These two attributes are a strength this year, while in years past they have been a weakness.  

     

    2. Rebounding and scoring in the paint—The Ducks are able to battle opposing teams on the boards this season and score more points in the paint as well.

    There is not as big of an emphasis on the three-pointer this season as there has been the past two seasons. 

     

    3. Taking care of business—This team works hard and appears focused in every game they play in. This team simply finds ways to win ball games.

Two Factors That Could Hold the Ducks Back

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    1. Slow starts—In the first half, the Ducks seem to start off slow by missing makeable shots. This problem could catch up with the Ducks if they happen to play a stronger and tougher opponent. 

     

    2. Turnovers—This has been another problem for this team. The Ducks have to cut down on their turnovers in their remaining games.

    They averaged 19.5 turnovers in their past two games against Washington and Washington State. 

Prediction

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    It is still to early to tell, but I would put the Ducks at a Sweet 16 level right now. They have the talent to make it that far in the tournament and would challenge teams from the Big 12, Big East and Big Ten.

    There is the possibility that the Ducks could receive a five or lower seed in the tournament also, if they can keep piling on the wins. 

    We will see if the Ducks can keep the winning streak going and keep their undefeated Pac-12 record intact when they travel to Palo Alto on Wednesday to take on Stanford at 11 p.m. ET on ESPNU.