The University of Oregon hasn’t been to the NCAA Championship Title finals since 1939! Yes, that is 78 years! Other than my father who has been waiting for over 50 years for the Mexico National Soccer team to make it pass the quarterfinals in the World Cup, I don’t know of anyone who has been this patient and loyal to their team as the Ducks fans have.
By now most of the March Madness fans are in awe due to how unpredictable the bracket formation has been. The favorite Duke is out. The underdogs U of O and Gonzaga are in! I guess we can all agree that’s what makes March Madness the college basketball event that everyone must watch.
So, what can one expect out of this weekend’s Final Four matches? But, more importantly, what is Monday’s big final going to look like? If you are an Oregonian no matter your college affiliations, you should be rooting for the Ducks.
The Ducks won their first NCAA title in 1939. In an unforgettable defeat to the Ohio Buckeyes, the Ducks aka the Tall Firs took down one of the favored teams of the NCAA. While it has been 78 years since they have taken the championship, the Ducks are a firm and important piece of the tapestry college basketball is about.
The Ducks have made the road to the NCAA tournament 15 times with an impressive record of One NCAA Tournament Champions in 1939; Two appearances in the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 1939 & 2017; Seven NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 1939, 1945, 1960, 2002, 2007, 2016, 2017 and five NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen in 1960, 2002, 2007, 2013, 2016, 2017
Along with four conference tournament champions 2003, 2007, 2013, 2016 and six conference regular season champions in 1919, 1939, 1944, 2002, 2016, 2017.
Overall, while Oregon’s Saturday’s competitor has a stronger history and experience in the tournament, including holding the NCAA Men’s Division’s record for Basketball Tournament Consecutive Appearances, and Most All Time Final Four Appearances the Tar Heels should tread carefully and treat the Ducks for what they are, one of the strongest teams in the NCAA.
With Dana Altman holding a head coaching record of an overall of 597–312 (.656), he has carried the Ducks with a strong reputation as one of THE basketball schools in the Pac-12 Conference. Add two regular season Pac-12 conference championships (2016 & 2017) and two Pac-12 tournament championships (2013 & 2016) you can see Altman is no stranger to understanding the secret to balancing your player’s hunger for a win with strategic and responsible coaching strategies that have built his name as a coach.
Whether you are a Duck by choice, by default for being an Oregonian, or perhaps you just love the sport and appreciate the value of this team, you must admit, Saturday’s game is more than another “Final Four” game. This game is about dreams coming true, hopes and possibilities taking form. It is about young basketball players putting it all on the court for the love of the game. It is about Oregon’s basketball making sure NCAA fans across the country do not forget the Ducks are championship material and under no circumstances should their accomplishment be taken as “luck” of any kind.
The Ducks are a team to be reckoned with. They have put in the hard work needed to get to this point. If they continue to apply the same discipline on the court and avoid the mistakes of the past they not only have a shot, but they could and should get the shot at the final.
One must admit that having to deal with Chris Boucher’s injury has been no fun. However, they can continue to find their strength by relying on Sophomore’s Tyler Dorsey and forward, Junior Dillon Brooks. As a team the Ducks must remember that not only do they have a chance, they have the caliber needed to get to the final, and bring the championship back home.
It has been 78 long years and somewhere in Oregon sitting at home or in a different time zone he or she has been waiting as long as my father has been waiting for his team for that one more chance. I believe it is time and we can all agree, even the skeptical or anti-Ducks that this would be a one of a kind win. It is time to fulfill the dream once more. Go Ducks!