The Oregon Ducks entered the 2021 NCAA Tournament with their NCAA basketball odds at +7000 to make it all the way through the bracket and win the championship. OU was the regular season Pac-12 champion, and earned the #1 seed for the conference tournament before bowing out to rival Oregon State in their second game.
Oregon never really got legitimate consideration as a potential national champion, but that sentiment has changed a bit after the first weekend of the tournament. The Ducks are getting some buzz (or quacks?) about being in this one for the long haul, and their odds are down to +3300. Here are some recaps and reasons to get in on that number right now.
Round of 64 vs. VCU
#7 seed Oregon avoided the first round upset that has become so prevalent in the college basketball tournament – simply for the fact that they didn’t have to play. #10 seed VCU had to bow out of the postseason after positive COVID tests within the program. Advancing to the round of 32 without even having to play doesn’t give a team a chance to work out their kinks and get used to the neutral site court, but it also leaves them very refreshed and anxious for the next round.
Round of 32 vs. Iowa
A lot of people thought Oregon would come out a bit rusty in the round of 32 prediction due to the fact that they didn’t have a game in the first round. This would especially be true against the #2 Hawkeyes and the leading candidate for Player of the Year, Luka Garza.
Oregon answered the rusty vs. rested debate very early against the Hawkeyes, taking a 10 point lead at the half and cruising to a 95-80 win to knock out the 2-seed in the West. Garza had 36, but four Oregon starters went for 17+ led by Chris Duarte (23) and L.J. Figueroa (21). Iowa had won 9 of their last 11, and were a top 10 team.
Sweet 16 vs. USC
The #6 seed Trojans could be a tougher challenge for the Ducks than the #2 Hawkeyes, but at least OU is familiar with this Pac-12 foe. USC has a potential NBA lottery pick on their roster in 7-footer Evan Mobley, and his 6-11 brother Isaiah is just as huge. Southern Cal dominated Kansas 85-51 to get to this spot.
OU and USC only matched up once during the Pac-12 schedule, with the Trojans pulling off a 72-58 win at home. OU was down 43-22 at half, but did cut a 26-point deficit down to 10 at one point. They also did a good job of limiting Mobley to just 11 points. The spread for this Sweet 16 matchup is USC -2, meaning it could go either way.
Elite 8 vs. Gonzaga/Creighton
Nobody said the path to the Championship would be easy, and if Oregon gets by USC they’ll likely get a matchup with undefeated Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are impressive, but they also haven’t played anybody in awhile with the 91st adjusted strength of schedule in the country, Oregon 43rd. The Ducks don’t have the size to match up with the 6’10” Drew Timme, but they can employ the same strategy as against Garza – let him get his and stop everybody else. Also, Gonzaga is trying to become the first undefeated team since the 1976 Hoosiers. This tournament is also held in Indiana meaning what fans are allowed are going to be against Gonzaga by default.
Final Four vs. Michigan/Florida State/UCLA/Alabama
Michigan is the team that Oregon doesn’t want to see here as they have a top 10 adjusted offense and defense. The Ducks have beaten UCLA 82-74 this year though, and Florida State is just 3-4 over their last 7. Alabama will be a tough out too though with an 8 game win streak. The Crimson Tide would be beat up if they had to battle Michigan to get to this point though.
Championship Game vs. ?
A #1 seed is already out on the other side of the bracket (Illinois) which would instantly make OU’s shot at a title easier. A #11, a #12, and a #15 seed are still alive on that side as well. Baylor would be a tough championship game, but if #2 seed Houston makes it they will have done so with the 103rd adjusted strength of schedule
Not many people expect Oregon to make the Championship Game, but they didn’t think Texas Tech would make it in 2019 either. Or Wisconsin in 2015. Or Butler in 2010 and 2011.
Either way, the +3300 has a shot.