Power Ranking The Top 5 Teams Not Playing In 2020

The Big 10 and Pac-12 have postponed their football seasons until the spring, and barring a miraculous change in direction, that means we are missing a few great teams worth watching this coming football season. There are rumors that certain teams from these conferences are still trying to put together a season, so while all hope is not yet lost, here’s the top 5 teams we are at least very unlikely to see play in the coming months.

5. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan faced an uphill battle this season in a loaded Big 10 East with Penn State and Ohio State. However, with Ohio State visiting Penn State, and the Nittany Lions travelling to Ann Arbor, there were hopes at potentially making a run at a 9-win conference season, which would at least keep them in the Playoff conversation. That may have required Jim Harbaugh to win a big game, so it may not have happened, but regardless, one of the best divisions in football is out of action this fall. We also miss some intirguing storylines, including Michigan’s quarterback battle, as they scramble to replace Shea Patterson. The Wolverines also will not get to break out running back Zach Charbonnet, who turned heads during an impressive freshman season. He averaged a touch under five yards per carry and notched 11 touchdowns on the ground. He was largely not Michigan’s feature back, but he figured to get an increased share of the carries in his sophomore season. Charbonnet will certainly miss out on a great chance to boost his draft stock, a common and unfortunate theme for many players in these conferences. It’ll be a weird season without the Maize and Blue roaming the gridiron.

4. Oregon Ducks

Maybe a tad low? That’s alright, I can deal with the protests of Oregon fans. Most college football fans were disappointed last year when Oregon lost a late-season battle with Arizona State, nullifying the Ducks’ chance at the Playoff. They were largely disappointed, simply because the general thought, which proved to be correct, was that Oklahoma could not match up in the Playoff, and the red-hot Ducks figured to be a higher-quality team. However, their late season loss doomed them, and Oregon settled for a Rose Bowl victory. This year, they would have had to replace quarterback Justin Herbert, who was drafted sixth overall after spending four years under center for the Ducks. Oregon figured to be a prime Pac-12 contender and potential darkhorse for the Playoff – however, barring any unlikely circumstances, they won’t be getting that chance in 2020.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions

I was really high on Penn State entering this season. I thought the Nittany Lions were truly one of the best teams in the country. They’re definitely one of the teams I am disappointed I won’t get to see in action. Whether it was defensive force Micah Parsons terrorizing opposing offenses, Journey Brown putting forth a dynamic season in the backfield, or quarterback Sean Clifford becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 10, Penn State had a ton of potential, I thought. Parsons opted out of the season, and Penn State also announced there would be no fans, nullifying their fairly significant homefield advantage at Happy Valley. Particularly affected was their home clash with Ohio State, which they figured to make their annual ‘whiteout’ game, which provides one of the most deafening atmsopheres in sports. That game, and this team as a whole, will be missed by the college football world in 2020.

2. USC Trojans

Entering this season, I was completely sold on Kedon Slovis as the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and one of the best in the nation. I believe USC had the best returning offense in the conference, a defense that could at the very least stack up as a top-5 unit. Slovis ended last season absolutely on fire, and I was ready for him to absolutely torch the Pac-12 this season. I truly could have seen him as a darkhorse Heisman contender, had the Trojans become a legitimate playoff contender. Slovis is an absolute stud, and I think he will elevate his draft stock to be one of the premier quarterbacks available in the 2022 draft, assuming he has a chance to suit up again by that point.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

This was the obvious number one. Whether you were excited to see Justin Fields ball out under center once more, or who in the Ohio States talented wide receiver corps would emerge, or exactly how well Master Teague could fill the shoes of J.K. Dobbins, or how dominant the Buckeyes’ defense could be, there was plenty to be excited for in this Ohio State team. They fell just short in the College Football Playoff Semifinals last season, and you can bet the house that they would have been raring to go out of the gate, ready to avenge that gutwrenching defeat. Ohio State was definitely on the shortlist of national title contenders in 2020, and one of the clear reasons that a national championship earned this coming fall season may have to come with a slight asterick.

Top Returning Pac-12 Guards: #4 – Chris Duarte, Oregon

We’re back to our top returning guards in the Pac-12 countdown and we’re coming back with our second straight Oregon Duck. Yesterday, we slotted St. Johns transfer L.J. Figueroa at #5 in our rankings, and today, Chris Duarte is the man of the hour, coming in at #4 in the countdown. Duarte, like Figueroa, is a premier defender, coming off a season in which he ranked second in the Pac-12 with 1.7 steals per game. With Figueroa, the defending steals leader in the Big East, and Duarte, the Ducks have possibly the most fearsome defensive backcourt in the league. Duarte’s offensive numbers in 2019 didn’t pop off the chart, as he played second-fiddle in the Oregon offense to Pac-12 player of the year Payton Pritchard. However, Duarte still averaged 12.9 points per game, while crashing the boards for 5.6 rebounds a contest, both marks ranking second on the team. With Pritchard off to the NBA, Duarte will be the go-to-guy in Eugene, and expect his numbers to take a jump across the board. 

Duarte didn’t always get the most opportunities last season, but when he did, he showed what he’s capable of, and that should have Oregon fans for this coming winter. In an early-season overtime loss to #6 Gonzaga, Duarte posted 16 points and 9 rebounds, and when conference season picked up, so did Duarte’s numbers. In a three-game Pac-12 winning streak against Utah, Arizona State, and #24 Arizona, Duarte combined for 51 points and 21 rebounds. Three games later, he put forth his signature effort of the year, facing Pac-12 contenders USC in a game that went to two overtimes. Duarte dropped 30 points on the Trojans, while collecting 11 rebounds for his lone double-double of the year. If that wasn’t enough, the junior guard was a terror defensively, notching eight steals. He followed it up with 24 points and 6 steals against UCLA. Those two efforts against the two next-best teams in the conference should thrill Oregon fans, who were looking primed for a Final Four run behind Pritchard, but Duarte looks up to the task.

Duarte’s biggest hindrance to big efforts were his three-point shot. He shot 34% from deep on the year, but in an 8-game stretch that lasted from the Utah game to the UCLA clash, he shot 44% on his 3-point offerings and averaged over 18 points per game. If he keeps that type of consistency in 2020-21, both he and the Ducks have an extremely high ceiling.

Top Returning Pac-12 Guards: #5 – LJ Figueroa, Oregon

When playing in a Power-6 conference in college basketball, winning road games is absolutely critical to building a successful season. With a bevy of hostile environments throughout the country, nearly every team finds it necessary to steal some victories away from home. To win such games, you need players that thrive in the spotlight and can silence opposing crowds. That’s the asset that LJ Figueroa, the senior transfer for Oregon, who averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, brings to the table. On the road, Figueroa notched 16.4 points away from home en route to being the leading scorer for the Red Storm on the year. As Figueroa prepares for his senior campaign on the opposite coast, he slots in as our #5 returning guard in the Pac-12.

As the Red Storm coasted to a 10-2 start to non-conference play against a relatively weak schedule, Figueroa put up solid numbers, highlighted by a 25-point effort against UNH and 23-point showing versus Brown. In their first premier contest of the season, St. Johns battled #16 Arizona in a neutral-court clash, and Figueroa shined, finishing with 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.

On the year, the Red Storm star led the conference with 1.9 steals per game. Later in the year, against #18 Seton Hall, Figueroa posted an astounding 7 steals, complementing a 16-point, 5-rebound effort. Figueroa’s season was highlighted by some truly impressive road performances at Depaul (28 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), Georgetown (23 points, 5 rebounds), and at #16 Seton Hall (19 points, 4 rebound). He punctuated an impressive season that saw him near the top ten in overall scoring in the conference with a huge performance in a Big East Tournament victory against Georgetown, notching 22 points against the Hoyas, who had defeated the Red Storm twice during the season. 

Figueroa, if he gets the waiver for immediate eligibility, should fit quite well into Oregon’s system, and at the surface, he is landing in a much better situation in Eugene. The Ducks are replacing a projected second-round pick and Pac-12 player of the year Payton Pritchard, but with the dynamic returning guard in Chris Duarte and the acquisition of Figuero, Oregon figures to be near the top of the Pac-12 again and mixing into the national title conversation as the season winds on. 

Recruiting Headlines: Clemson gets 4-star linebacker, and a baseball player at QB?

Clemson lands a few big recruits

Clemson landed one of their biggest defensive targets, as they earned a commitment form four-star Barrett Carter. Carter is considered one of the best, if not the best, linebacker in the Class of 2021, and his recruitment was largely a battle between the ACC power and Georgia. Ohio State and Auburn were also considered fairly strong contenders for his services. Carter didn’t make a spectacle of his recruitment, as he had over 40 offers, and he publicly cut that list down only once, to eleven teams a few months ago.

Carter said each of the four serious contenders for his commitment were around the top of his list, but his pre-virus visit to Clemson was a major factor in his decision. This decision was a major victory and a pleasant surprise for Clemson, who, like many, believed the Georgia product was bound to stay in-state with the Bulldogs.

However, Carter wasn’t the only player Clemson stole from Georgia – they took from their baseball team as well. Bubba Chandler, a commit to the Bulldogs on the diamond with no prior FBS offers, received one from the Tigers. Without so much as an official campus visit, Chandler de-committed from Georgia, swinging to Clemson, where he will be playing both baseball and football. Although he may be a better prospect at shortstop or on the mound, Chandler had over 2500 all-purpose yards and 31 touchdowns as a high school senior, and he’s certainly an intriguing add for the Clemson team.

4-star S Josh Moore commits to Stanford

Clemson wasn’t the only team bringing in big recruits on the gridiron, as Stanford managed to swindle a commitment from Josh Moore, bringing the Georgia product coast-to-coast, as the four-star safety will be taking his talents to the Palo Alto. Staying in state didn’t seem to be a huge priority for Moore – Georgia Tech seemed like a potential contender for Moore’s service, but in-state powerhouse Georgia didn’t offer Moore. Stanford’s talent and great coach in David Shaw, even coming off a 4-8 season, enticed Moore to join the Cardinal’s secondary.

4-star OT Jonah Miller commits to Oregon

Barely a week after landing a big-time tackle in Bram Walden, the Ducks continues to add to the trenches in their 2021 class. Oregon also dipped into the state of Arizona’s talent to snare Jonah Miller. Miller was thought to be headed out of state, but Texas was considered his most likely destination. However, the Ducks, in their ongoing quest to strengthen their offensive line and running game, secured Miller’s commitment, taking him away from the Longhorns and into the Pac-12 in another big victory in the trenches for the Ducks.

Recruiting News: Kentucky lands huge in-state prospect

There were some big waves on the recruiting front this past weekend, as a bevy of power-5 conference teams continue to add 4-star recruits. Here’s a rundown of some of the notable commitments made in the past couple of days. 

Dekel Crowdus, WR, Kentucky
Crowdus may have been the most notable signing from a college football impact standpoint, as the Lexington, Kentucky product elected to stay in-state and commit to the Wildcats, choosing the SEC East squad over a bevy of powerhouse squads. Oklahoma was known to be among his top choices, and his preference for Kentucky is a major statement for the Wildcats’ program. As they look to climb back towards SEC relevancy, to land a major wide receiver commit over a team like Oklahoma, which as a receiver-friendly air-raid offense, is a huge boost. Crowdus had also visited and been offered by Louisville (twice), Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, and Duke. 

Bram Walden, OT, Oregon
While Crowdus stayed in state, Walden turned down offers from both Arizona and Arizona State, opting to head north to Oregon, joining the reigning Pac-12 champions as another Class of 2021 commit. Walden is one of the best prospects out of Arizona, and a top-20 offensive tackle in the recruiting class. He’s a big commitment for Oregon, as the very athletic Walden will fit well with their speedy backfield and rushing attack. 

Jacorey Brooks, WR, Alabama
Alabama continues to reel in top-level talent, picking up a huge Class of 2021 commit in Brooks, a Miami, Florida product who chose the Crimson Tide over in-state offers from Florida and Florida State. Ranked as the second best wide receiver in his class, Brooks could potentially be paired with incoming five-star Alabama quarterback Bryce Young for a season, which would be an electric combination to watch.

OTHER NOTABLE COMMITMENTS

Lonnie White Jr., Athlete, commits to Penn State

Mar’Keise Irving, RB, commits to Minnesota

KaTron Evans, DT, commits to Tennessee

Previewing the Top 5 non-conference football games of 2020

As we anxiously await word on the 2020 college football season, let’s preview the Top 5 non-conference games of the upcoming season.

5. Michigan @ Washington, September 5
This is a thrilling Week 1 battle, as both teams will be debuting new quarterbacks. Washington is trying to get back to the top of the Pac-12, and maybe back to relevancy on the national scale after a disappointing 8-5 record in Jacob Eason’s final season. Michigan is hoping to finally break through under Jim Harbaugh, but as of now, they’re certainly expected to continue playing second fiddle to Ohio State in the Big 10. This will be a statement victory for whoever emerges on top. I’m leaning towards Washington in this one – Michigan has really struggled in big games under Jim Harbaugh, and they’ve won just once as an underdog. Although they may not be an underdog in this one, a trip to the West Coast is a tough way to start the season. 
Washington 33 Michigan 23

4. Clemson @ Notre Dame, November 7

If Notre Dame can escape a tough test with Wisconsin earlier in the season, and don’t fall victim to any surprising upsets, this game should be a late-season clash of unbeatens. For Clemson, with a very weak ACC schedule, one loss makes them a long shot to make the Playoff, so they will need this win just as much as the Irish. For Notre Dame, they struggle to win big games under Brian Kelly, but they also rarely lose at home, having not lost in South Bend since Jake Fromm beat them 20-19 in 2017. I don’t think this will be a blowout, as Notre Dame plays with too much pride at home, but I don’t see Clemson dropping this one. With Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Justyn Ross back for more, the Tigers are primed for another undefeated season and a run at the national championship. They’ll get off to a hot start and stave off the Irish.
Clemson 35 Notre Dame 30

3. Alabama vs. USC, September 5
This is another great Week 1 game, as Alabama rarely faces a non-conference threat early in the season. USC figures to bounce back this season, coming off an 8-5 season that saw them start three different quarterbacks. With some consistency under center, the Trojans will be Pac-12 contenders, but they face a brutal first game in the Crimson Tide. Alabam’s quarterback situation just got a little clearer with Taulia Tagovailoa entering the transfer portal, and the job figures to go to star recruit Bryce Young, although senior Mac Jones will push to regain his starting job. The Crimson Tide rarely lose, however, and they’ll be hungry after being left out of a New Years 6 Bowl last season. However, I do think USC stays close and their high-powered offense will have the ability to go punch-for-punch with Alabama, who does have question marks with the departure of their quarterback and 1-2 receiver punch in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. Give me Bama in a close one in this neutral field battle. 
Alabama 42 USC 35 (overtime)

2. Texas @ LSU, September 12
This was thought to be a huge game last year, and it just became the first of many Heisman moments for Joe Burrow, while kick starting Texas’s spiral to a very disappointing season. However, after not feeling it last year, I’m finally jumping on the “Texas is back” train, as I do believe Sam Ehlinger is an elite quarterback who will dominate the Big 12 this season. However, the SEC is a much different animal, and LSU is the defending national champions. Myles Brennan is a very capable replacement at quarterback, the Tigers boast loads of talent at the skill positions, and their defense should still be very solid. That, combined with a significant homefield advantage, should land LSU a marquee home win to start the year. It’s going to be a good year for Texas overall, but this game will be a tough one.
LSU 38 Texas 20

1. Ohio State @ Oregon, September 12
Oregon’s home field advantage may be largely negated in this one if they aren’t allowed to have fans in this early-season contest, but the Ducks will most definitely be motivated for one of the biggest home games in program history. With College Football Playoff favorite Ohio State, led by Heisman candidate Justin Fields, coming into town, the Ducks will face a stiff challenge, especially having to replace Justin Herbert at quarterback. However, thankfully, this is less of an issue for Oregon, whose system is based on first-reads and their rushing attack. It’s easier for them to rebound from the loss of a stud quarterback, and the Ducks will be raring to go from the start. Ohio State may still make the playoff with an undefeated Big 10 campaign, but they’re not escaping Eugene. 

Oregon 41 Ohio State 34

Daily Headlines: NFL schedule release is reason for Tua concern

Today’s daily headlines are a little slimmer, and we even dip into the NFL to give you some news regarding recently drafted college athletes. With that being said, here’s today’s trending news.

Jim Harbaugh proposes NFL Draft changes

In an open letter to the ‘College Football Community’, Jim Harbaugh proposed a few changes to the NFL Draft process. High among Harbaugh’s priorities was implementing a similar system to the NBA Draft, which allows athletes to retain NCAA eligibility even after declaring for the draft. This enables college athletes who may want to test the draft waters and get feedback from professional teams to do so, but they can also return back to finish off their eligibility. Harbaugh has been known for proposing major changes to the football landscape, recently proposing an 11-team Playoff, and he makes headlines once more today. 

Miami Dolphins’ schedule already causing early Tua concerns
The biggest red flag for Tua Tuagovaoila is his injury concerns, especially after missing the last portion of Alabama’s season. When the NFL schedule was released Thursday night, those concerns escalated with the revealing of the Miami Dolphins’ early slate of games. After starting with defensive genius Bill Belichick,  Tua and the Dolphins take on some of the games’ scariest pass rushers, including Aaron Donald, Joey and Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, and Chandler Jones in just the first nine weeks. That’s a fearsome group of defensive beasts, and if anything, people anxious to see the rocket-armed left-handed quarterback debut may have to wait a little while, as I doubt Brian Flores will be anxious to throw his prized franchise quarterback into the fray with Miami’s horrific offensive line. Oregon announces no live sporting events with fans through September
Although the hope remains that the college football season will be played this fall, Oregon’s governor made the announcement that no live sporting events with fans would be permitted in the state until at least October. This is a devastating blow to the Ducks, who were slated to host Ohio State in one of the biggest home games in program history. Not only do they lose the mass amounts of revenue that would have been generated by a likely record-breaking crowd, but the Ducks also may be playing in an empty stadium, diminishing the home field advantage in their half of their home-and-home series. It seems a little early to make this decision, so depending on how the pandemic, and the American response to it, progresses, this may not be final, but it isn’t looking good for the reigning Pac-12 champions.

2020 NFL Draft Reactions Episode: Oregon as RBU? Michigan a big draft winner?

If you’re tired of the same old “Which NFL teams won and lost the 2020 NFL Draft”, but want to still relive the only live sporting event of the past month and a half, then please check out our latest episode! We launch a must-watch show on which players made a mistake by entering this most recent draft, which college programs won and lost the draft, and who is QBU, RBU, and WRU right now in the world of college football. Check out a hot (or really cold?) take by Andrew, some controversial arguments by Cal, and Nathaniel’s undying love for the Georgia Bulldogs.

2020 March Madness Simulation Starts Final Four on Saturday

After 8 days of simulation, we reached the conclusion of our Elite Eight, and starting Saturday evening, we will play out our Final Four, with the national championship on Monday night. How did we get here? And who is going home with the title? Let’s find out. 

South Region – 3. Duke

Duke’s road to the Final Four was made possible by a series of upsets in the top half of the bracket that took out many of their top challengers. Between #1 overall seed Kansas, 2019 Final Four member Auburn, and a strong Maryland squad, it didn’t appear to be a favorable road for Duke. However, courtesy of 13th-seeded Vermont and 9th-seeded Wichita State, all three of those teams were gone by the Sweet 16 making Duke the favorite. 

The Blue Devils had no issues in their opener, opening up a 14-point lead on Northern Kentucky and never saw that lead dip below twelve in the final twenty minutes, winning 76-54. Their Round of 32 battle was much more challenging, as Ohio State looked primed to pull off the upset. The #6 Buckeyes led by 10 with five minute to go, but a late Duke charge forced overtime, where the Blue Devils took over, holding Ohio State to four overtime points and winning 107-102. 

In the Sweet 16, Duke was matched up against second-seeded San Diego State. The Aztecs were the higher seed, but the Blue Devils were the betting favorite, and they showed why, opening up a nine point lead at halftime and gradually squeezing out their mid-major opponent. San Diego State came within three at one point, but Duke stayed ahead and pulled away, winning 83-72. 

The Elite Eight rolled around and Duke got a very unexpected opponent in 13. Vermont. The Catamounts came brutally close to an upset last year of Florida State, and this year, helped along by Wichita’s upset of Kansas, they had rampaged through the top half of the bracket. They did the same to Duke in the early going, leading 50-37 at halftime and 62-50 with 12 minutes to play. The Blue Devils’ offense picked up, cutting the deficit to six with 8 minutes to play, and then five with four to go. With 2:54 to go, Trae Jones hit the first of his clutch shots, draining a triple to tie the score at 76-76. At 80-80, Duke got the ball with 33 seconds to go and the shot clock off. The Blue Devils let the clock drain before getting the ball to Jones who knocked down the game winner with a buttery step-back jumper. It wasn’t over, as Vermont connected on a full court pass and was fouled on the layup, but they hit just one of two free throws, and Duke survived 82-81 to advance to the Final Four. 

West Region – 1. Kentucky

Kentucky looked nothing like a Final Four team for much of their tournament, as they have truly embodied the ‘survive and advance’ method. Even in the first round, against #16 Siena, the Wildcats only opened up a 6-point halftime advantage, and Siena was as close as four in the second half before Kentucky pulled away to win 87-70. In the Round of 32, the Wildcats looked dead in the water, down twelve to Arizona at half and being outplayed for much of the game. But Arizona never pulled away, and Kentucky pulled back to force overtime, and then Immanuel Quickley hit a runner at the buzzer and Kentucky advanced, 86-85. 

Kentucky got what should have been a welcome gift in the Sweet 16, getting to face #12 Eastern Tennessee State instead of defending national champion Virginia or powerhouse Villanova. However, the game was anything but easy for the Wildcats, who tussled back and forth before hitting another buzzer-beater, this one courtesy of Tyrese Maxes, in a 78-76 win. Their Elite Eight contest was actually probably Kentucky’s best game, or at least their best half, as after trailing Seton Hall by three at half, the Wildcats stormed back to take a 12-point lead. After the Pirates cut it to six, Kentucky held Myles Powell’s squad to just one layup in the final four minutes, winning 80-71 to earn a match-up with Duke in the Final Four.

East Region – 1. Dayton

Dayton had to deal with a lot of pressure as a first time one-seed and our #2 overall seed, but the Flyers handled it admirably, cruising through most of their opening weekend. Obi Toppin was held somewhat quiet by #16 NC Central in the first round, but it was all they could do to silence the AP Player of the Year, and virtually everyone else was open for Dayton, who cruised 77-55. In the Round of 32, Toppin scored 24, and Dayton led wire-to-wire and ended the surprising run of #9 Notre Dame, who made the tournament by virtue of a Cinderella run through the ACC Tournament.

 Dayton trailed for the first time in the Sweet 16, down by two at halftime to a massive underdog in #12 New Mexico State. Both offenses exploded in a thrilling second half, but Dayton couldn’t surge ahead, and the game went to overtime at 80-80. There, however, the Flyers claimed ten of the first eleven points in the period to seize control and take down the Aggies, 93-86. 

The Flyers played a somewhat strange Elite 8 contest against Florida State. They got off to a hot start and led throughout the first half, but the Seminoles narrowed the gap to five points at the break. With 12 to go, Dayton hadn’t surrendered the lead, still up two points. At the Under-4 timeout, Dayton still led by four, and at no point had Florida State so much as tied the game. But at the same time, Dayton didn’t lead by more than five points throughout the half. In the final minutes, the Seminoles came within one point several times, and a game-tying three rimmed out. Trey Landers had 21 and Dayton won an 88-85 game in which they never trailed and never led by more than two possessions in the final 35 minutes. 

Midwest Region – 3. Oregon

After a dicey first game, it’s been largely smooth sailing for Oregon, who did also benefit from the 1-seed in their region falling before the Elite Eight. The Ducks trailed at halftime in the first round to Eastern Washington, but they crawled back to take a small lead, icing the game when Pritchard executed a silky crossover and drilled a jumper for an 86-82 lead with 7 seconds left and the shot clock about to expire. Oregon advanced and got to face #11 Clemson in the Round of 32, but the Tigers never challenged the Ducks, who cruised 78-63, heading into the Sweet 16 with very little second-round drama. 

Against a strong Baylor team whose late-season slide cost them a #1 seed, the Ducks got an early advantage and then clung to a one-point lead at the break. Oregon got up by as many as eleven in the second half, before watching Baylor pull within 69-66 with 1:48 to play. The Bears didn’t score again, and the Ducks went 6-8 at the free throw line to close it out, advancing to the Elite Eight, 75-66. 

Against #4 Louisville, who upset #1 Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, Oregon got off to a horrific start, trailing 25-12 just twelve minutes into the game. However, the Ducks rebounded and ended the half on a 23-12 run to make it a 37-35 halftime deficit. They started the second half on an 8-0 run before the game settled into a tightly-fought battle, with Oregon leading 75-71 with four minutes to play. From there, the Ducks locked down once more, not allowing Louisville a single point in the final four minutes. They recorded two steals, forced two more turnovers, and blocked a shot while ending the game on an 8-0 run to win 83-71, forging on to the Final Four.

25% of our bracket entries still have a champion in the field, with Duke the only team that nobody picked out of the four remaining squads. Who’s bringing home the national title on Monday night?

Pac-12 Status Report: Struggles On The Bubble

Last year, the Pac-12 sent just 3 teams to the NCAA tournament, the fewest of any Power-6 conference, and this year looks to be more of the same, unless some of the teams stuck in the mud can get unstuck really fast. As a whole, the conference is struggling, featuring just three ranked teams and just one in the Top 20. Arizona is still the title favorite in my mind, but Oregon and Colorado also seem like viable candidates. Identifying biggest risers and fallers is difficult in a conference where every team seems to be playing with consistent mediocrity, but here is our best shot:

Biggest Risers: USC

  • The Trojans actually lead the Pac-12 with a 4-1 mark in conference play, but that one loss was a 32-point demolition, suffered at the hands of the Washington Huskies. USC responded to that with three straight wins – but two of those were against UCLA and Cal, two of the worst teams in the league. Saturday’s home victory over Stanford showcased USC’s potential, but whether they’re a tournament team is somewhat undecided.

Biggest Fallers: Oregon State

  • I listed the Beavers as a team that, while a title seemed unlikely, could make a decent run in the conference tournament, especially given their 17-point win over Arizona. Oregon State followed this with two straight losses. Although their road loss to a solid Washington team can be excused, I cannot justify their 13-point loss to Washington State – quite possibly the worst team the conference and at the very least in the bottom echelon of teams. In a league with a core top 3 teams and a definitive ‘basement tier’, such a bad loss will quickly move you into the biggest faller category.

Quick Hits

  • Right now, I’m going to predict exactly 3 teams to make the NCAA tournament out of the Pac-12. Outside of Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado, I just don’t feel comfortable picking another of these squads to crack the field.
  • On the bubble, I’m listing 5 teams in order of how I rate their chances: Stanford, USC, Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon State.
  • As for teams that have no chance, I believe there are already four that have played themselves out of contention – Utah, UCLA, Washington State, and Cal.

Biggest Upcoming Games

  • USC @ Oregon State
  • UCLA @ #12 Oregon
  • Stanford @ Cal