Oregon’s Outlook as Pac-12 FrontrunnersBy Nick T.
The Oregon Ducks have slowly climbed up the AP Polls and are legitimate contenders in the national title scene.
After a week of knocking off two Washington teams, the Ducks have tallied an impressive 18-2 record and are tabbed at the No. 10 spot in the AP standings, moving up six spots from last week. It is the first time they rank in the top-1o since 2007.
In the Pac-12, the Ducks (7-0 in conference play) lead the way, while UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State are nipping at its heels with two losses each. Interestingly, No. 8 Arizona still remains ahead of Oregon in the national polls, even after their loss to the Ducks earlier this season.
Oregon is not known for having a top-tier basketball program, considering its football program has overshadowed much of the school for the past half decade. And what makes their season especially great is the fact that the division is in its prime, boasting potentially five teams that could be picked for the NCAA tournament this year (Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado).
The Ducks have made some vast strides in their play this season, and it starts with E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi. The two seniors are averaging a shade over 20 points per game this season and are the heart of the team’s front court.
The biggest surprises for the team so far is how well their young core is playing. Freshman guards Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis have also lighted up the scoreboard on occasion and played a crucial role in helping the Ducks defeat the Wildcats earlier this season. Unfortunately, Oregon will be without Artis for three to six weeks due to a foot injury he sustained in Saturday’s win against Washington. The injury could be a major blow in holding on to the top spot in the Pac-12.
As for the future, the Ducks are just about set at home this season with a relatively easy schedule, which should extend their home winning streak from 20 games after defeating Washington 81-76 on Saturday night. The toughest competitors on the horizon are Washington (Feb. 13) and Colorado (March 7).