No. 9 Oregon continues to strengthen case for one seed

AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Given how unpredictable this season has been, the discussion of which four teams will receive one-seeds in the NCAA tournament has been a lively one. No. 1 Kansas looks to be in good shape, as they’ve won 11 straight games and the outright regular season title in a conference many consider to be the best in the country. After that a number of teams have been mentioned for the top line, and No. 9 Oregon certainly has a good case of their own.

Dana Altman’s Ducks wrapped up the outright Pac-12 regular season title with a 76-66 win at USC Saturday afternoon. Oregon navigated injury issues throughout their non-conference schedule, and against the Trojans they had to navigate a 25-minute delay thanks to a power outage at the Galen Center.

And if those injuries, the most notable of which being Dylan Ennis’ broken foot that ended his season after just two games, couldn’t kill Oregon’s momentum a power outage wasn’t going to either. And the same can be said of the off days experienced by forwards Dylan Brooks and Chris Boucher, who combined for eight points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field.

As has been the case throughout the season, other players stepped forward for Oregon as they fought off a second-half challenge from the Trojans.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey led four Ducks in double figures with 19 points, shooting 8-for-11 from the field, and Elgin Cook added 17 while also grabbing 12 rebounds. And with reserves Dwayne Benjamin and Jordan Bell combining to contribute 24 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Oregon had more than enough to cover for the off days experienced by Brooks and Boucher.

The Ducks have a seven-man rotation, but the versatility possessed by many of those players can make the team appear deeper than they actually are. Brooks, Cook and Benjamin can all score on multiple levels at the forward spots, and Boucher’s even shown the ability to step out away from the basket on occasion. Dorsey’s performed well both on and off the ball in the backcourt, and Casey Benson’s developed into a point guard more willing to take shots that become available to him as the season’s progressed.

That all adds up to a team that is the Pac-12’s best heading into the conference tournament in Las Vegas. And to this point, Oregon’s put together a good case to be on the top line when the NCAA tournament bracket is revealed a week from Sunday.

With their win over USC, Oregon’s now 10-3 against the RPI Top 50 (four wins against teams ranked in the RPI Top 25) and their schedule is ranked as the fifth-toughest in the country. As for the losses to UNLV and Boise State (which is an RPI Top 100 team) in non-conference play, Oregon wasn’t at full strength in either game. Both Bell and Dorsey missed the loss to UNLV due to injury, with Bell making his season debut against Boise State while Dorsey remained sidelined.

They have the computer numbers and the quality wins to back those stats up. And if Oregon can win the Pac-12 tournament, they’ll have an even stronger case for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament.