Oregon Basketball

Ducks Snubbed in Latest Rankings

December 3, 2018

The new AP rankings for Women’s College Basketball came out Monday, and I’m a little perturbed by the rankings. UConn and Notre Dame faced off in South Bend, for a clash of two perennial powerhouses this past weekend.

At the time, Notre Dame was ranked #1 in the country, with UConn coming in at #2. UConn went on to completely dominate Notre Dame on their home court, and won by 18 points. Now, surely, a drubbing on their home court should knock Notre Dame down a couple of spots, right? Wrong. Notre Dame fell all the way down to #2 in the country above our beloved Ducks who are 7-0 and won Sunday by 62 points. So the question remains, why does Oregon deserve to be ranked #2 and does it even matter right now? There are plenty of reasons for Oregon to be ranked #2, but for now I want to tackle the latter half of that statement.

When you think of Women’s College Basketball, you think of UConn, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Stanford and Baylor. Each of these programs have been to multiple Final Fours, and all of these programs have won multiple NCAA Titles. The Women’s Basketball program here at Oregon has been on the rise ever since Kelly Graves has come along and turned Eugene into a destination for top recruits. Kelly Graves, who just won his 100th game at Oregon on Sunday, has done a tremendous job developing the talent he recruited and turning them into a winning program. Every year Oregon is trying to get into that elite group of schools, and it starts with rankings. Recently the college football playoff rankings have come out, and it has been all the talk in the sports world. Each time Duke or Kentucky gets a new recruiting class, everyone pegs them to be the #1 team in the country.

Sports depend a lot on rankings, and the attention drawn to those programs who continuously find themselves on top, is something that helps turn great programs into elite programs. UConn has become such a household name in women’s basketball because of how often they are the best team in the country. The closer Oregon gets to that #1 position, the closer they are to rising to prominence. Rising above a prestigious program like Notre Dame, and being put into the same category as UConn is what Oregon needs to show the world just how good this group of talent is out here in Eugene.

Now for the facts. I’m sure my inspirational puff piece above has you feeling ready to run through a wall for these Ducks, because that’s how we should all feel. We have a special group of girls here at Oregon, and we’re lucky to be able to watch them play day in and day out. Let’s start with some obvious facts on why Oregon should be the #2 team in the country. Oregon, according to ESPN, ranks 2nd in scoring per game at 94.7 PPG, and 2nd in scoring margin at +38.1 PPG. To say this team is offensively gifted would be an understatement. Still aren’t sold? Alright, here are a couple more stats I can throw at you. Oregon ranks 3rd in overall field goal percentage, shooting 54.3% as a team, and shooting 44.2% from downtown on 11.1 attempts per game.

The Ducks also lead the nation in free throw percentage at 85%, which is an extremely underrated aspect to this club. Oregon sits tied for 6th in assists per game at 21.4 but only trails Iowa, the leaders, by 3 assists per game. Oregon also only commits 10.6 turnovers per game, which leads the country, and also leads the country in assist to turnover ratio at 2.03. Which means, for every turnover, Oregon gets 2 assists.

Now if that isn't enough to show just how good Oregon is offensively, I don’t know what will. This offense could easily be considered the best offense in the game. Each stat I listed for you above Oregon ranks, at the worst, top 6 in the country in every category. That’s pretty good last time I checked. Is it top two worthy in the country good? In my opinion, it absolutely is. This team can, and will, put up with the best offenses in the country in every game.

I know what you’re saying, “Jared, what about the defense??” And, well, you’d be right. Oregon’s defensive stats aren’t something to marvel at. Why is this? I think defense is something that develops with time with this Oregon program. I also believe that the numbers are a little askew. For example, Oregon ranks 24th in the country in opponent 3-point percentage, at 24.2% That’s some pretty good defense.

But, the leader in the NCAA is Miami (OH) where they allow opponents to make threes at a 15.6% clip. This, on nearly 60 less attempts, and on significantly less talented programs as opponents. A couple teams Miami (OH) has played are; Canisus, Eastern Kentucky, High Point, Detroit and UIC. Now, I am not going out on a limb to say Oregon, and their defense, might have put up similar numbers if they played that level of competition.

Such is the way of college basketball. Oregon’s defense will be the make or break reason for how far this team goes. And they need a top 20 defense to pair with their top 2 offense. And until they can show that, they will sit below UConn in the rankings. But, even when the defensive numbers aren’t there, this team deserves to be #2 overall, especially after Notre Dame’s loss this last week.

We will see if Oregon is up to the task, as they face #6 Mississippi State on December 18th in Matthew Knight Arena. That will be the second test of the season after Syracuse, but, it will be a true test among two of the sports most elite programs.

Thanks again for the read, and if you’d like to see more articles about the women’s program feel free to let me know. And as always, go Ducks!

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