For the sixth time in seven years, the Oregon Ducks have punched a ticket to the NCAA National Tournament. The Ducks enter this year’s tournament with the #5 ranking. Because of this, they will host the first and second rounds in Eugene, Oregon. This is the first time they have been a host team since 1986.
The Ducks have been better in the postseason under head coach Jim Moore than they have looked in the past. Under Moore, they are 5-5 in the postseason and before him they were 1-5. UO is also 9-4 v.s. teams in the 2012 NCAA field.
Oregon’s first round match will be against Northern Colorado. The Bears surprisingly won the Big Sky conference tournament and finished 24-10. This season is their fourth straight 20-win season.
No pun intended, but the Ducks will need to use their high “flying” offense if they want to beat Northern Colorado in the first round and advance far into the tournament. Coming into the tournament, Oregon had a great last week of the season where they lead the nation in kills (15.9 per set) and assists (14.88 per set). They also ranked ninth in hitting (.292).
The Ducks and the Bears have only met once before and Oregon won 3-2 in 2004.
The other first round game in Eugene, Oregon will be between Dayton and Pepperdine. Dayton is the Atlantic-10 regular season and tournament champion. They recorded a perfect conference record this season (14-0). The Flyers are making the tournament for the sixth consecutive year.
Their opponent in the first round will be Pepperdine. They finished fifth in their conference, but still recorded their 16th 20-win season under head coach Nina Matthies. Last year, they were an Elite 8 advancer.
The winners of #5 Oregon/Northern Colorado and Dayton/Pepperdine will play each other in the second round. As for the Ducks, they have never played Dayton and are 1-3 against Pepperdine. However, the last time they met Pepperdine was in 1986.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.
Check out my other writings on the Illinois Fighting Illini blog, Writing Illini.