Welcome to Playboy.com’s 2014 Bracket Challenge

The Oregon Ducks are a dark horse in the PAC-12 but could prove to be a real cinderella story in the 2014 March Madness College Basketball Tournament
01/04/2014
 

Team Preview: 2014 Oregon Ducks

By: Brian MacIver

2012-2013 Finish: 28-8 (12-6 in PAC-12)

Coach: Dana Altman, 73-36 at Oregon (493-279 overall)

The Oregon Ducks are one of the most surprising teams right now. They lost most of their starting rotation last year, including their best player, Arsalan Kazemi, but have still managed to be one of the best teams in the NCAA this year. With their powerhouse offense led by transfers Joseph Young and Mike Moser, the Ducks are set to make a run deep into March.

Strongside: As with most of their PAC-12 counterparts, the Ducks’ offense is one of the most explosive in the NCAA. Their ability to score from anywhere on the court, whether in transition or by setting up, makes them the type of team that you can never rule out, no matter what the score is. Add to that a knack for creating turnovers and you have a recipe for disaster for opposing teams.

Junior guard Joseph Young, a transfer from Houston, has been the pickup of the year for Oregon. Young transferred after his father, the former director of basketball operations at Houston, did not have his contract renewed. Oregon had no problem letting Young join their ranks, and he has become their most prolific scorer, averaging over 20 points per game.

Moser, a transfer from UNLV, has taken over well for Kazemi. The 6’8” forward is an X factor for the Ducks, and he has been playing very well the past few games. Moser scored double-digit points in four of his last five games, including a double-double in an overtime win against Ole Miss on December 8.

Weakside: Oregon has developed a trend of picking up one-year transfers. While this has been working well so far, at times the Ducks seem to lack focus, maybe because the players have not grown into the system. Case in point: a 100-96 OT win against BYU. Brigham Young is a good team, but that game should not have been that close. In fact, BYU had the lead right until the last minute of regular time, when the Ducks forced a turnover and tied the game.

This recruiting style also means that the team basically has to start from scratch every year, recruiting a large number of players in the off-season. This has no bearing on the team’s chances in March, but does mean that you can never make consistent bets on them from year to year.

All Told: The Ducks’ impressive offense should be more than enough to get them into the Sweet 16, but this patchwork team could also rip apart at the seams at any moment come March. The team has managed to pull off some great come-from-behind wins, showing tenacity and heart, but that is exactly the problem: they had to come from behind. That should not happen with the amount of talent that they have.

Ducks fly together. But will Dana Altman be able to rally the troops around one cause like Coach Bombay?

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After a short, lackluster career in sports, Brian MacIver turned to what all bitter, below average high school athletes turn to: sports writing. He’s been at it for the past seven years, met some great people, written some really bad articles, but has been having a blast since day one. You can follow me on Twitter @TheBrianMacIver for some sporadic moments of wittiness or to share vital information to find buried treasure (please, serious leads only…).

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