As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 25-9 (13-5 in Pac-12)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 113.3 (16th)/100.6 (134th)
Seed: No. 8 in West
Impact player: Joseph Young, senior guard: 20.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 91.8 FT%
The Case For: Few teams were hotter than Oregon during the final five weeks of the regular season. After a 34-point loss at Arizona on Jan. 28, the Ducks won nine of their final 10 games. That streak included an impressive home win over Utah and a solid road victory over Stanford. That backbone of that strong play was Oregon's offense, which ranked second in the Pac-12 during conference play in effective field goal percentage and third in adjusted offensive efficiency. Leading scorer and assist provider Joseph Young delivered a series of big performances—including a 32-point effort in a Feb. 4 win over Washington—to help solidify the Ducks’ tourney bid and put him on the path to becoming Pac-12 player of the year. Junior forward Elgin Cook (13.2 ppg) provides solid interior scoring, while freshman forward Jordan Bell (team-high 6.1 rpg) is a capable rebounder on both ends. Still, any argument for Oregon is rooted in the belief that its hot finish to the regular season will spill over into the NCAAs.
The Case Against: Even if the Ducks boast one of the top 20 offenses in the country, their defensive warts make them vulnerable to an early exit. Opponents shot 51.5 percent from inside the two-point arc against Oregon during Pac-12 play, good for 10th in the conference, and the Ducks struggled to keep opponents off the offensive glass. At some point, Oregon will face a team it cannot simply outscore without playing better defense. Even a team with a merely serviceable offense that can contain Young stands a good chance of ousting the Ducks.
In fact, that defining closing stretch that pushed Oregon into the field of 68 included only one win over a team (Utah) currently rank inside the top 40 of Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings. Though the Ducks should be commended for winning on the road and avoiding any bad losses that would have jeopardized their at-large candidacy, whether they’re good enough to upend a better team on a neutral court is unclear.