After losing 70-86 to the Colorado Buffaloes and 77-80 to the Utah Utes, the Oregon Ducks’ March Madness stock dropped. Previously, Joe Lunardi of ESPN ranked the Ducks as a 10-seed in his biweekly NCAA tournament predictions, ESPN Bracketology. But now, Lunardi has placed Oregon as the “last team in,” meaning if the season ended today they would be the lowest overall seed to secure an at-large bid for the tournament.
The honorable title of “last team in” means that Oregon would play in the 12-seed play-in game — one of the first games of the tournament. If they were to win that game, they would qualify for the round of the 64, matching up against one of the four 5-seeds.
Both of the Ducks’ recent losses came on the road, and they would’ve been big games to win. Before Oregon’s fruitless road trip, the Ducks were in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, but now they share that spot with Arizona and Arizona State.
Some of the biggest struggles in Oregon’s last two games came on the defensive end of the ball. Across both games, the Ducks allowed their opponent to shoot 50.44% from the field and score an average of 83 points. The Ducks are scoring well, but they’ll need to ramp up their defense if they want to compete for the Pac-12 title.
Oregon will face Arizona State and Arizona this week, the other two schools at the top of the Pac-12, which makes these games incredibly important. Arizona has one of the top offenses in the country, so the Ducks will need to improve their defense, or they won’t have a chance against the Wildcats.