Can Oregon basketball turn things around after a horrid start to make a run at the 2022 NCAA Tournament? Pac-12 play will decide that.
As the 2020-21 Oregon basketball season came to a close, Dana Altman knew that he had to replace some big-time players.
Chris Duarte was the leader of the group and he went on to be a first-round NBA draft pick by the Indiana Pacers and Eugene Omoruyi, LG Figueroa, and Chandler Lawson all left as well. Two of those latter three exhausted their eligibility while Lawson decided to hit the transfer portal and he’s currently at Memphis — not getting a ton of playing time, I might add.
Four key contributors left the program in the same offseason and Altman had to figure out a way to make up for the losses quickly. He lost four-star 2021 commit Johnathan Lawson, the brother of Chandler, to Memphis and he was only bringing in five-star big man Nathan Bittle in the class.
Altman immediately hit the transfer market and landed JUCO All-American shooting guard Rivaldo Soares, Oklahoma guard De’Vion Harmon, Syracuse forward Quincy Guerrier, and Rutgers guard Jacob Young. All seemed to be fixed rather quickly, talent-wise.
But something has been off all year.
Oregon is just 7-6 despite having all of this talent on the roster with losses to teams like Saint Mary’s, Arizona State, and Stanford. Two losses were tough to swallow as the Ducks lost to BYU by 32 points and Houston by 29. They gave the other ranked team they faced (Baylor) a run for their money and it was a good sign after a rough start to the year.
Baylor was ranked No. 1 when it visited Eugene and Oregon put up a fight and nearly pulled off the upset, falling 78-70 in the end but gaining confidence along the way. It seemed like something clicked.
This Baylor loss came after a 25-point bounce-back win over Portland and then the Ducks followed up the defeat by the Bears with a win over Pepperdine. This recent trend could be a sign of a turnaround. But is it too late?
Can Oregon basketball turn it around in time?
Oregon is currently 7-6 overall and 0-2 in Pac-12 play with conference action about to start up again. Realistically, the Ducks will likely need to go 14-6 in conference play to really have a good shot at a berth in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
How likely is that?
Let’s take a glance at the schedule and find out.
Oregon’s losses to Arizona State and Stanford weren’t great. Those were two games the Ducks were expected to win rather easily at the beginning of the year when they were ranked in the top 15. That makes things tougher here as Oregon will probably have to go about 14-4 from this point on to make the tourney — along with a win or two in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Ducks should win their next seven home games before ending the year with home matchups against USC and UCLA. They should also win 5-6 of their road games. Let’s say they take care of all the games they should be favored in and split the remaining 4-5, they should be in.
I could see the Ducks going 14-6 in conference play with the talent they have and the fact that they only play Arizona once. If they get things rolling, they could finally reach their potential.
It’s tough to see a team with Harmon, Young, Will Richardson, Soares, N’Faly Dante, Franck Kepnang, Bittle, Guerrier, and Eric Williams Jr. missing out on the tourney.
A hot streak could be on the horizon for this Oregon basketball team and a tourney is possible.