EUGENE — Oregon could have been be preparing for its second-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament today.
In fact, chances are the Ducks would be playing some time Saturday night had they been sent to Spokane and won their opening round game, which would’ve been held Saturday.
That’s what happened in our mock NCAA Tournament, in which fans decide who survives and advances to simulate the 2020 tournament.
No. 4 seed Oregon received more than 85 percent of the vote in its first-round matchup with No. 13 seed New Mexico State and moves on to face No. 5 seed Butler in the second round for a trip to the Sweet 16.
Voting for the second round is now open through midnight Sunday, at PlaytheTournament.com. When you vote, you’ll also have a chance to donate to coronavirus relief through the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Here’s a look at what a Oregon-Butler second-round game would have looked like:
The Bulldogs split their season series with other Big East powers Villanova, Creighton and Marquette, lost to Seton Hall twice, beat Purdue and lost a close game to Baylor in nonconference play.
The Ducks would have to focus their attention primarily on Kamar Baldwin (16.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Sean McDermott (11.7 ppg., 6.3 rpg.), Butler’s top scorers, but disrupting ball handler Aaron Thompson would be the key to victory.
Oregon turned a corner defensively because it was deflecting passes and creating more loose balls. Doing that against Thompson, who has a 4.7 assist-to-turnover ratio, would be a challenge and he rarely made mistakes that proved costly.
Containing Baldwin would be by far the most important path to success for the Ducks. He proved more than capable of taking over games and when he got going from the field it was not good for opponents.
Stylistically the matchup would again pit two of the slower tempo teams, with Butler ranked 341st in adjusted tempo. New Mexico State, which Oregon beat in the opening round of our simulation, was 343rd.
As long as Oregon shot well from long-range, this could be particularly advantageous because Butler isn’t necessarily a team built to get in a three-point contest. The Ducks ranked fourth (39.6 percent) from behind the arc compared to 131st (34.1 percent) for the Bulldogs.
If Oregon could play from ahead, a decided crowd advantage could create what would essentially be a road game for Butler, which didn’t have a signature road win to its credit during the regular season.