Fifth-ranked Ducks hope postseason goes long
Oregon coach Dana Altman has done the math: The No. 5 Ducks' postseason can end with a thud in two games, or it can stretch to nine.
Obviously, the nine games would be preferable.
"It could be a really quick postseason or we could play as long as nine games," Altman said. "There are some things we have to shore up, but we're healthy, our guys are playing well together."
Here's the scenario: Oregon must first get through the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas this week before heading to the NCAA Tournament. Nine games could take the Ducks all the way to the NCAA championship, which would be the team's second title since the Tall Firs won it in 1939. Oregon advanced to the Elite Eight last season.
"We reached one of our goals, and that was to win the league," Jordan Bell said. "We did that scenario. The next goal is to win the Pac-12 Tournament, just keep moving forward and go as far as possible in the NCAA Tournament."
Oregon (27-4, 16-2) clinched a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title on Saturday with an 80-59 victory over the rival Oregon State Beavers.
The victory put the Ducks atop the final conference standings with No. 7 Arizona, which also went 16-2 in league play after a 73-60 victory over Arizona State earlier in the day. It was the sixth time Oregon has claimed the crown or at least a share of it. Last year, the Ducks won it outright.
On Monday, Oregon jumped a spot in the AP Top 25. Arizona held steady at No. 7, as did UCLA at No. 3.
The Ducks also collected some prestigious postseason awards.
Junior guard Dillon Brooks was named to the AP's All-Pac-12 First Team, after leading the Ducks with an average of 16 points. This season he hit two game-winning 3-pointers: in the opener against UCLA on Dec. 28 and memorably at Cal on Feb. 22.
During conference play, Brooks averaged 17.9 points and made 35 3-pointers.
Bell was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. He averaged 7.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.1 blocks on an Oregon team that ranked second in the nation with 6.8 blocks per game.
The Pac-12 Tournament opens on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Because the Ducks routed Arizona 85-58 on Feb. 4 at home, Oregon gets the top seed in the tournament and a first-round bye.
Oregon will play the winner of the game between ninth-seeded Stanford and No. 8 Arizona State on Thursday.
"We're just going to take it with the same approach we always do. We're just going to go down there and swing away," Altman said. "Whatever happens, happens. We're not going to change our game. We are who we are."
Oregon's 16 conference victories represent the most in school history. Following last year's run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, the Ducks were picked to finish first in the preseason conference poll.
Bell said this season was more of a challenge.
"Last year a lot of people doubted our ranking and all that stuff,' Bell said. "This year, they saw what we did in the tournament, and we had a lot of guys back, so when teams played us they really put on a hard hat and got ready for an intense game."