After a loss to UCLA which I said had squashed Oregon's NCAA Tournament hopes, an interesting tidbit emerged.
Experts in the field still had the Ducks firmly on the bubble, if not inside it.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. UCLA is the top team in the conference and in the Top 10 nationally. Despite a big second half deficit, the Ducks only lost by seven.
Hope endured. The rest of the schedule looked remarkably favorable. If Oregon played the way they did recently against Arizona State and USC, they were sure to win out.
Instead, Oregon lost 72-71 in overtime to Washington, a team that came into the game with twice as many in conference losses as wins and who had dropped four straight.
Once again, Oregon's offense reverted to hesitancy, squandering a five point cushion in the final minutes. On defense, Oregon's three 7-footers couldn't stop Washington's one. A perfect remedy for a struggling team seems to be host Oregon.
So with a late-season falter happening for the second year in a row, is Dana Altman losing a bit of his usual late-season brilliance? Or is this team just not buying in to his method?
I'm inclined to think the latter, but with one of the best classes in school history incoming, we will have a much better idea next year.
As for this year, it just doesn't look like the Ducks really want it.