It’s a great time to be an Oregon Duck, or an Oregon State Beaver.
The Civil War rivals made the 68-team NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament field on March 13 and became a part of history in the process. For the No. 1 seeded Ducks, who were placed in the West regional, it’s the first time the men’s basketball program has ever been awarded a top seed in the tourney. The Beavers’ appearance ends a 26-year dry spell.
“It is uncharted waters for our program, so it’ll be special for the guys,” head coach Dana Altman told Austin Meek of the Eugene Register Guard on Sunday. “It’ll be special for our coaching staff. It’s a big challenge, but we are excited about it.”
Oregon comes into the 2016 festivities red-hot, winning the outright regular season conference title then steamrolling Utah 88-57 on March 12 to clinch the PAC-12 tournament title. The demolishing of the Utes was likely a key factor for the Ducks landing the No. 1 seed, as Oregon was in the running for a top spot with Big 10 tournament winner Michigan State. The Spartans ended up as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest regional.
The Beavers were considered one of many bubble teams in front of the NCAA Tournament committee, as Oregon State finished 19-12 and ended the regular season with a 76-68 loss to No. 24 ranked Cal. However, a relatively quiet atmosphere inside the club level at Reser Stadium became a scene of pure euphoria. Oregon State players and fans celebrated in unison after learning of their tournament match up during a Selection Sunday Watch Party.
“It’s fun to go dancing again,” senior guard Gary Payton II told Gary Horowitz of the Corvallis Statesman Journal on Sunday.
Oregon will await the winner of the No. 16 seed play-in game between Holy Cross and Southern, which is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16. The No. 7 seeded Beavers will wait until Friday, March 18 for their West regional contest against No. 10 seed Virginia Commonwealth of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
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