But the loss of super-freshman Bol Bol changed everything.
After four days of dominating defense, the Ducks are going dancing again.
Bol Bol went down nine games into a season that was supposed to have OR competing for a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, which led to the Ducks relying on their other heralded recruits, who struggled throughout much of the year.
Oregon Ducks are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record and are 8-0 ATS in their last 8 games overall and are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games and are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
This matchup clearly is not ideal for Wisconsin, but the Badgers remain fully capable of winning this game thanks to an elite defense of their own, and an OR offense that, in general, has not been anything special this season. Freshman Bol Bol also went down with a season-ending foot injury, leaving OR without one of its best players.
But first, the Badgers have to get past an OR defense that is No. 18 nationally and has been extremely hard to score against during its eight-game winning streak.
Following the selections of the NCAA and NIT fields, the Green Bay Phoenix learned there would be a tomorrow for their season. The last time OR did that was early in the 1982-83 season: Rutgers (53), San Diego State (49), St. Olaf (39), Montana State (55), Idaho (56) and Lamar (41).More news: New Zealand is 'unbreakable': Al-Noor mosque imam says in Friday sermon
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That run to book an automatic berth included an overtime win over Arizona State on Friday and a 68-48 victory over top-seeded Washington in the final the following day.
Their defense has been stout: they led the Pac-12 in opponent field goal attempts, opponent field goals made, and opponent three-point percentage. We got to attack it when it's there. Wisconsin may be the best defensive team they have faced to this point, but OR just dispatched of a very good Washington squad in the Pac-12 championship that also happens to boast a tough defense (No. 20 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom). "We tried to be aggressive and tried to get to the foul line". They started 2-4 in Pac-12 play and got the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament.
If Oregon wins, it will face the victor of the No. 4 seed Kansas State and No. 13 seed UC-Irvine on Sunday.
The Huskies had one fewer game after clinching a first-round bye, beating USC and Colorado by five points each.
OR earned its ninth consecutive 20-win season on Wednesday night.
The Ducks' disruptive D caused problems early in the title game. I also don't think they're used to facing a lot of zone or matchup zone that we play or a little full-court press or three-quarters press. The four-team pod in the Eugene Regional includes the (2) Ducks, (15) Portland State, (10) in, and (7) Texas.
The Ducks pulled away after leading 28-26 at halftime. Wooten is an excellent defender, ranking No. 10 in the nation in block percentage and No. 4 in the Pac-12 in defensive rating.
The bad news is there could be some quality defenses standing in Wisconsin's path in the first three rounds.