Sports Out West

NCAA Tournament 2013: Oregon Ducks embrace underdog role

MatthewKnightArena

When the Oregon Ducks won the PAC-12 conference tournament, many thought that would earn them a level of respect going in to the NCAA Tournament.  On selection Sunday when it was announced that the Ducks were a No. 12 seed,  it was apparent how wrong that premise was.  Unfortunately, the Ducks, like most West Coast basketball teams, get minimal attention from the national media and are generally not highly thought of. 

“We just decided as a team we’re going to go out there and we don’t care who we’re going to play,” Arsalan Kazemi told the Courier Journal.

That attitude has shown to work thus far in the tournament as the Ducks handled the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 68-55, in the round of 64.  Then the Ducks messed up a a plethora of brackets by beating the St. Louis Billikens 74-57.  The Billikens were a trendy pick to make the Final Four by many prognosticators this season. 

If the Ducks can find a way to defeat the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet 16, it will be their biggest upset yet.  Oddsmakers have the Cardinals as 10-point favorites to win the NCAA championship according to Sportsbook.com.

When asked about the Cardinals’ press defense, junior Johnathan Loyd was quoted as saying, “From what I hear, they have the best press in the country. They’re always pushing you into the corners and using the sidelines as an extra defender. We’re going to have to stay off the sidelines and keep the ball in the middle of the floor.”

The Ducks are making it appear as if beating these top teams seem is simple when it is not.  They have already proven they were undervalued.  If they can pull off the upset against Rick Pitino’s Cardinals, people may begin to respect Oregon Ducks basketball the way they should have all along.   

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Keenan Actkins

Keenan Actkins is an Arizona resident living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. He brings a wealth of sports knowledge and passion to the team with his unique insight and strong voice and opinion. He also contributes to Yahoo! Voices and has written for WoodyPaige.com.