Welcome to Oregon Basketball and The Season of New, a weekly Pac-12 microsite column from Rockne Roll (@raroll). His column will focus on the various issues facing college basketball through the prism of the Oregon Ducks, a program ostensibly on the rise with top-notch facilities and coaching, but still subject to many of the same problems suffered by many of the other high-major programs around the country.
Needless to say, it’s been a topsy-turvy week in college hoops. Louisville was crowned the top team in the country after all three remaining undefeated teams lost in the same weekend, only to be promptly unseated by Syracuse in a Big East thriller that propelled Michael Carter-Williams further into the national spotlight. Duke retook the crown, only to suffer an unprecedented 27-point beatdown at the hands of Miami. Heading into Saturday night, the next number one is anything but certain, with Michigan still in the mix and Kansas seemingly ready to take the throne for the first time this season.
The excitement has continued deep into the undercard throughout the last week. Michigan State’s upset of Ohio State makes the Big Ten race that much more interesting (not that it needed any help), and Wichita State’s win over Creighton turned the Missouri Valley from the Jays’ show to a horse race in one fell swoop. None of these, however, can top the show put on in Hinkle Fieldhouse last Saturday, a prime time game between barely-mid-major programs with the same mascot and the same aspirations come March.
When two of the best squads in the country meet in one of the most historic sports venues in any league of any sport, there are bound to be fireworks, but this contest was at “ESPN Classic” levels even before it ended. A Rotnei Clarke-less Bulldogs squad kept it tooth and nail with the kings of the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga, for 39 minutes and 57 seconds until a traveling call seemed to seal this battle of the Bulldogs. Then in came the Hinkle Magic and a kid named Roosevelt Jones grabbed the Zags’ inbounds pass, dribbled twice and launched a floater that no one heard hit the ground after swishing through the net, it’s bounce drowned out as a sea of navy and white rushed the old court to celebrate a tremendous win.