Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 12/12/12
Entering the Picture Though conference play has not even started yet, many NCAA Basketball fans are already anticipating the next March Madness. Luckily for most college basketball fans, Joe Lunardi, one of ESPN’s master bracketologists, satisfies everybody’s craving early on in the season with his release of his very early 2013 March Madness bracket. And, to the surprise of many college basketball fans around the nation, the Oregon Ducks are one of the six Pac-12 teams listed by Lunardi. Other Pac-12 programs included in the bracket are UCLA (12 seed), Colorado (7 seed), California (9 seed), Arizona (3 seed), and Stanford (12 seed). The Ducks, according to Lunardi’s preliminary bracket, will be a 10 seed heading into March Madness and will face-off against Virginia Commonwealth, a 7 seed. Rising Expectations While there is still plenty of basketball left to play and things can change very quickly, the Oregon Men’s Basketball team has seen a rejuvenation under Head Coach Dana Altman. Taking a program that was struggling to scratch across wins in the latter days of Ernie Kent, Oregon’s basketball program has improved every year Altman has coached the Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena. Arsalan Kazemi has already proven his worth to the Ducks (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard). Starting off by winning the CBI, Altman took the Ducks to the NIT last year and will look to forward momentum all the way to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Assisting Altman in his quest for Oregon glory are a slew of newcomers mixed in with crucial veterans. Arsalan Kazemi, a transfer from Rice, has done nothing but impress while freshmen Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson have already shown they have the tools to succeed at the college level. Helping these younger players are veterans E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory, two players that will be crucial to Oregon’s success this season. Forecasting The rest of Oregon’s schedule for the season looks as though it will be very conducive to a run at Oregon’s first appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since they found themselves their during the 2008 March Madness. In fact, the only ranked team that is currently on Oregon’s schedule is No. 8 Arizona, who the Ducks will face on January 10th at Matthew Knight Arena in just their second conference game of the season. Oregon will also face UCLA only once this season while being able to play against a rather mediocre Pac-12 North division. With the potential for an appearance in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be rising expectations for the program as a whole. And, while the Ducks have started out 8-1 on the season and find themselves just outside the AP Top-25, there have been times when they could have played a lot better. As has been evident with past Oregon teams, the Ducks look very sloppy at times for critical periods during the game. If they want to be true contenders in the NCAA Postseason this year they will have to shore up some consistency issues, problems that should begin to solve themselves as the season progresses. Though the Ducks have already navigated through their early schedule with just one blemish against Cincinnati, they will face a tough opponent in Nebraska (6-2) when they play host to them on December 15th at Matthew Knight Arena. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE DUCKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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