This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Oregon Ducks. Knocked to a top four seed by oustanding RPI and an amazing showing in the Pac-12 tournament, Oregon has to feel pretty good about their odds about getting to the second weekend. Things get dicier after that, but the Ducks drew a very favorable tournament seeding to get to the Final Four.
Why is that? By most advanced metrics, Oregon has one of the easier regions in the tournament. They also have the advantage of not having to leave the West Coast for the first two rounds; Oregon's first two games will be in Spokane, and if they advance to the second weekend they will be in Anaheim. They will have solid to semi neutral homecourt advantage compared to everyone except maybe a national power like Duke.
Here's Oregon's first weekend:
First round, 16 seed: Southern or Holy Cross. Not only does Oregon have the advantage of playing a 16 seed, they get to play a 16 seed on two days rest straight off a single eliminator from Dayton. This is the closest thing to a sure thing for the first round of this tournament.
Round of 32, #8 St. Josephs or #9 Cincinnati. St. Joseph's is a worse version of Oregon; really good offense, average defense. This is probably the matchup Oregon wants. Cincinnati is a deep team the Ducks would like to avoid; they play slow, they defend well, and can force Oregon to play their pace.
Sweet 16, #4 Duke, #5 Baylor or #12 Yale. Again, this is favorable seeding for the Ducks. Duke might be the defending national champs and have a great offense, but their defense is one of the worst in the tournament and Oregon thrives against bad defense. Oregon has beaten Baylor already this season and has to feel good about a rematch. The wild card is Yale, who are playing good basketball. I don't see Oregon having a problem with UNC Wilmington if they advance.
Elite 8, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Texas A&M, #6 Texas, #10 VCU. A jumble of teams could await Oregon in the Elite 8. I'll ignore the three lowest seeded teams (and Oregon State since Tres Tinkle appears unlikely to play) and focus on the five likeliest teams to challenge the Ducks. Oklahoma is undoubtedly the nastiest of the bunch and their three point shooting will cause Oregon trouble. A&M could use their defense and size to intimidate. Texas is probably a year away but they could go on a run. And VCU is brimming with Cinderella potential.
Here's the full West region.