People like watching the Lukes. A year ago, the Ducks went to the Elite Eight. This year, they spanked Kansas, a possible No. 1 seed. Boring they are not, if you like 3-pointers and fast breaks. Oregon finished fifth in the league that houses top-ranked Arizona, and rarely do teams that win 10 Pacific-10 Conference games and 20 overall get shunned by the Big Dance.
These are reasons that Oregon will be strongly considered for the NCAA Tournament, with or without beating Arizona State on Thursday in the Pac-10 tourney.
Now, here are the facts facing the Ducks, who are bouncing on the NCAA bubble at 20-9:
nÊOregon went 1-2 against top 10 teams (beating Kansas) and 3-4 against top 30 teams (beating ASU and Stanford, as well). Arizona State, the Pac-10's fourth-place team, went 0-3 and 1-7, respectively.
nÊOregon ranks 53rd in the Ratings Percentage Index and 38th in Jeff Sagarin's ratings of top college teams. If not for relative flops by Minnesota (16-11) and Pepperdine (15-13), the Ducks may have better than the 77th toughest schedule in the country. Arizona State had the 16th toughest.
nÊOregon's seven nonconference wins came against Portland, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside, Grambling State, Portland State, Pacific and Florida A&M. Weak.
nÊThe Ducks are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They went 5-7 in official road games (Kansas in the Rose Garden not included). Beating Pepperdine 105-90 hardly seems important now that the Waves are teetering on the National Invitation Tournament bubble, and the Ducks were not within striking distance in the last two minutes of any of those seven losses.
Without Luke Ridnour, the Ducks would have been battling UCLA for eighth in the Pac-10, and Oregon didn't even have the best frontcourt players in its own state.
If the NCAA Tournament calls, the Ducks should be grateful for the opportunity, and not lament being a No. 10 or 11 seed.
Oregon (20-9) vs. ASU (19-10): The Ducks need to make Ike Diogu (44 points in two games vs. UO) work, while rebounding and getting points from more than Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson. Oregon was 11 of 21 on 3-pointers in a win over ASU and 6 of 21 in a loss; ASU's Tommy Smith had 24 points in a win and nine in a loss.
Oregon State (13-14) vs. California (20-7): The Beavs need to stay close, a la their Cal game in January. Brian Jackson is 5 of 19 and Jimmie Haywood 7 of 25 vs. Cal.
Notes: The Portland State women (13-14), fresh off thumping Montana at home, open the Big Sky Conference tourney against Eastern Washington on Thursday. É A postseason run has ended for the tough-luck Oregon women, but OSU (14-14) has bid for an NIT game and will learn its fate after the field is set for the NCAAs.