The one step forward but two steps back journey that Oregon’s season has been for the last six weeks will likely cost it a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The Ducks (16-8, 8-5 Pac-12) once again split their weekend of games and dropped to No. 61 in NET, their lowest point in the last 10 games, and have few quality opportunities left to climb back onto the bubble.
The next four of Oregon’s seven remaining games are all against teams that are lower in the standings and will provide little to no benefit, and in most cases harm, UO’s strength of schedule.
Even if the Ducks drub Oregon State (NET 171), sweep Cal (124) and Stanford (99) and beat OSU again, they could see very little improvement in NET ranking. Case in point, Washington State swept the Beavers and Ducks last weekend and moved up one spot in NET and WSU’s resume is already dragged down from playing OSU twice this season.
It’s becoming increasingly likely that Oregon’s lone remaining Quadrant 1 game is the March 2 trip to Arizona. Even an upset there would not in itself be enough to lift the Ducks, who are 2-4 in Q1 games and need Washington to stay in the top 75.
Even if the only path to the Big Dance is to win the Pac-12 Tournament, Oregon still needs to win to secure a top four finish and first round bye.
For this week, besides beating Oregon State on Saturday the Ducks would be best served by OSU and Arizona beating Arizona State, the Washington schools each sweeping the Bay Area schools, the mountain schools each sweeping the LA schools.
Oregon resume as of February 12:
Quadrant 1: 2-4 | Quadrant 2: 3-3 | Quadrant 3: 6-1 | Quadrant 4: 5-0
Strength of schedule: 75 | Non-conference strength of schedule: 227
Best win: The 89-84 win at Washington State remains Oregon’s top win and what might be its only win over a tournament team.
Worst loss: The losses to Santa Clara (NET 110) and UCLA (112) are similar in rank but the former is still in Q3 and the latter is hanging on in Q2 thanks to the Bruins recent wins.
Biggest opportunities: The trip to Arizona is heading towards being the only Q1 game left for UO.
Can’t lose: For at-large purposes, no loss is acceptable. Even for the Pac-12 race, the games against OSU are must-wins to stay in the running for a top four finish.
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