By Ashley Farrell
Before Thursday’s 82-68 victory over the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils, the Oregon Ducks kept winning, making it to the Sweet Sixteen but in a different fashion than most top seeds.
In recent NCAA tournament history, very few No. 1’s have received less hype and attention than Oregon in the journey to the Elite 8. They have proven that they belong in the dance, winning the Pac-12 and beating Utah by 31 points in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game, earning a number one seed on Selection Sunday over Michigan State and Villanova.
Perhaps the decimation of the powerhouse that is Duke will now provide these Mighty Ducks with the praise and enthusiasm that is normally afforded to the top seeds. Because not only did they win, they were too fast, too athletic, and with Chris Boucher’s length frustrating Marshall Plumlee at the basket, too big.
The normally sharp-shooting—and newly-minted Blue Devil villain—in point guard Grayson Allen was held to only 4-13 outside due to the relentless pressure of Oregon forward Elgin Cook, and the only Duke player who had the size and athleticism to match up to the Ducks was Brandon Ingram, but even he couldn’t do it alone. The lack of scoring and rebounds from the Blue Devils, and the pressing, dunks, and clutch 3-pointers from the Ducks was a recipe that proved that Duke was overmatched, and caused the Ducks to bounce them out of the tournament with ease.
Rarely do we see a number one seed as a Cinderella story, the Oregon Ducks haven’t made it to this stage in nine years, yet the amount of athleticism, speed and precision in their style of play, as well as the threat of Dillon Brooks who put up 22 points, five assists and six rebounds Thursday, they are setting it up to earn the whole thing.
Quietly, of course.