Oregon’s chances of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament continue to hang by a thread after the Ducks missed an opportunity to improve their resume against Colorado.
The Ducks not only suffered the biggest loss in terms of scoring margin in Saturday’s 73-51 humiliation in Boulder, but their 31 percent shooting performance from the field was their second-worst in Dana Altman’s nine seasons. What could have been a key Quadrant 2 win for Oregon, which entered Saturday No. 57 in NET, instead became a tough loss to drop UO to NET No. 66 and gave Colorado its best win of the season.
Oregon (14-8, 4-5 Pac-12) has very little margin for error if it’s going to make it to the Big Dance.
The Ducks are 2-5 in Quadrant 1 games, though the top four opponents (Houston, Iowa, Baylor and Washington) are all losses and its win over Arizona (NET No. 65) is trending in the wrong direction and could fall to Quadrant 2, where Oregon is 1-2 and its loss to Oregon State (NET No. 72) is on the edge of Quadrant 2 and Quadrant 3.
Of course, the biggest blemishes on Oregon’s postseason resume are the home losses to UCLA (NET No. 86) and Texas Southern (NET No. 219), which are in Quadrant 3 and 4, respectively. The Bruins don’t have a daunting schedule the rest of the way and could move up to Quadrant 2, but it’s still a loss for the Ducks.
Oregon’s best opportunities remaining are trips to Washington and Oregon State, both Quadrant 1 games, and USC and UCLA and home games with Arizona and Arizona State, all Quadrant 2 games.
This week features two games Oregon absolutely cannot lose and hope to stay alive for an at-large bid, against Cal on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., FS1) and Stanford on Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2).
Here’s how Oregon’s resume breaks down with nine games remaining in the regular season:
Quadrant 1: 2-5 | Quadrant 2: 1-2 | Quadrant 3: 4-1 | Quadrant 4: 6-1
Avg. NET win: 167 | Avg NET loss: 69 | Strength of schedule: 46 | Non-conference strength of schedule: 68
— Best win: 85-65 win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 16. The Orange (NET No. 42) have won five of their last six but face an absolute gauntlet down the stretch and if they lose too much this could fall to Quadrant 2.
— Worst loss: The Texas Southern loss is an albatross. Quadrant 4 losses are virtually unforgivable. Some perspective, the top team in NET with a Quadrant 4 loss? Cincinnati (No. 25). After that Baylor (No. 29), which also lost to TSU and has a second Q4 loss, and UCF (No. 44) are the only teams ahead of Oregon with Quadrant 4 losses.
— Biggest opportunities: Oregon has road games at Washington (NET No. 28) on March 9 and Oregon State (NET No. 72) on Feb. 16 left in Quadrant 1. Of course, so much will be determined before the trip to Seattle that the Civil War in Corvallis could very well be an elimination game in terms of at-large possibilities.
— Can’t lose: Cal (NET No. 267) is the lowest ranked Power 5 in the country and Stanford (NET No. 120) is not moving from Quadrant 3. Oregon must sweep this week. The trip to Washington State (NET No. 231) is also must-win.