The last time Oregon made it this far was 1939, in the first Final Four ever played. The Ducks, then members of the Pacific Coast Conference, won the national championship that year. In Glendale, they'll search for an encore 78 years after the opening act, as members of the Pac-12 and winners of tournament's Midwest region.
Despite winning the national title in the NCAA tournament's first year, this has emerged as the golden era of Oregon basketball. Dana Altman has coached the Ducks to the Big Dance five years in a row, and he finally broke through by beating Kansas in the Elite Eight this year. Last year's team lost in that same round, and Oregon got to the Sweet 16 but no further in 2013. The Ducks been close before, and now they've arrived.
It's been a long road to this point. The Final Four drought lasted almost eight decades, but even that doesn't explain how bad the program used to be. Oregon didn't make a single NCAA tournament between 1962 and 1994. After that, it only made the field sporadically up until 2013. Since then their rise to the top has been swift.
The Ducks can definitely shoot. They're 15th in Division I with a 55.8 effective field goal percentage, a stat that measures shooting from the field but counts three-pointers as 50 percent more valuable than twos. Forward Jordan Bell, the star of the Elite Eight win against Kansas, is one of the most efficient inside scorers in the country. Guard Tyler Dorsey is a 42 percent shooter from deep and scored 24 points per game during UO's four regional wins.
On defense, Oregon is the best shot-blocking team in the country. Bell had an incredible eight rejections against Kansas, and as a team, Oregon blocks 17 percent of the shots its opponents put up. That's a huge number, and it makes it hard for a team to be efficient on offense. After all, blocked shots can't go through the hoop.
Nothing much. If Oregon has one shortcoming, it's that the Ducks don't get themselves to the free-throw line often. Nobody except star forward Dillon Brooks is an expert at drawing fouls, so a fairly small percentage of the Ducks' points are the freebies. For this offense to be good, it needs to be making shots from the field.
The Ducks don't have Final Four experience, but they do have pretty deep tournament experience aside from that. They're well-coached, and they're good at a lot of things. Expect Altman's team to give this thing a good run.