You probably only are thinking of the impending start of the season right now. And I'm here to tell you Oregon could win a second national title. Check The NCAAB Odds.
Ducks Can Build On Elite Eight Appearance
It's not often you can say that basketball expectations are higher at Oregon than for the football program, but I believe that's the case this coming season. That's because the Ducks are coming off the second-best season in school history. Under Coach Dana Altman, Oregon won the Pac-12 regular-season title at 14-4. UO then doubled up by winning the Pac-12 Tournament title, spanking a good Utah team in the championship game.
That earned Oregon a top seed -- a first in school history; Oregon's best previous seeding came in 2002 when the Ducks earned a No. 2 -- in the NCAA Tournament's West Region. Oregon had no trouble against No. 16 Holy Cross in the first round. No. 8 Saint Joseph's put up a good fight in the Round of 32, but Oregon rallied from a late seven-point hole to win 69-64.
Seven Pac-12 teams made the 2016 NCAA Tournament, but Oregon was the only one to advance to the Sweet 16. There, the Ducks had a surprisingly easy 82-68 win over No. 4 and defending national champion Duke, easily covering the 3-point spread on college basketball odds. However, Oregon was denied a chance for its second-ever trip to the Final Four by losing 80-68 to No. 2 seed Oklahoma. Sooners star Buddy Hield was unstoppable in that game with 37 points.
Oregon's 31 wins were a school record and the only time the team went deeper in the NCAA Tournament was when it won it way back in 1939. That was the first Big Dance.
So why is Oregon good betting value on NCAA basketball picks to win the Pac-12's first national title in men's basketball since 1997? Because the Ducks were huge winners when it came to players declaring early for the NBA Draft. Guard Tyler Dorsey, forward Dillon Brooks and forward Chris Boucher all pondered leaving for the pros and didn't. Brooks was first-team All-Pac-12 and led the Ducks in scoring at 16.7 points per game while adding 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Dorsey averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds as a freshman. Boucher averaged 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and was one of the nation's top shot blockers with 110 of them.
In addition, point guard Dylan Ennis was granted a rare sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. In the 2014-15 season, Ennis averaged 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists for Villanova in helping lead the Wildcats to the Big East title. He was a graduate transfer last year at Oregon but played in only two games due to a foot injury. The only Oregon starter lost was a good one, forward Elgin Cook. He averaged 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Altman also adds a good recruiting class, including last season's Junior College Player of the Year, Kavell Bigby-Williams. At Gillette College in Wyoming, Bigby-Williams averaged 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game. He led the nation with 211 blocks. Boucher, incidentally, was the 2015 JuCo Player of the Year and that worked out pretty well.
2016-17 Schedule Glance
Oregon's 2016-17 schedule has been released. The Ducks will open at home against Army on Friday, Nov. 11. Their first big test will be at Baylor on Nov. 15. Those two met last November in Eugene with No. 25 Oregon beating the No. 20 Bears 74-67 behind 15 points and eight rebounds from Boucher. Dorsey had 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
The Ducks also will play in the Maui Invitational and open on Nov. 21 against Georgetown in Hawaii. The winner there will play the winner of Wisconsin-Tennessee the next day with the championship game on Nov. 23. Opening round games on the other side of the bracket are Connecticut-Oklahoma State and North Carolina-Chaminade. Thus if expected form holds, we could get a terrific championship game between the Heels, last year's national runners-up, and Ducks. UNC is 4-0 all-time against Oregon.
Finally, Oregon opens the Pac-12 play by hosting UCLA and USC around the New Year's holiday. As usual, Oregon will close the regular season with a Civil War matchup vs. Oregon State, this year in Corvallis the first week of March.
NCAAB Free Picks: Oregon will be a preseason Top-10 team and I believe it should repeat as Pac-12 champion and potentially get another No. 1 seed if everyone stays healthy. Brooks will be a top candidate for conference player of the year.