Brazilian Pavilion: Covering it allWednesday, February 07, 2007 By Davi Schoen
The best team in the NFL is out of the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers lost 24-21 to the New England Patriots. Don’t get me wrong, the Patriots deserved to win. They did everything to keep themselves in the game with an opportunity to win it, against a superior team. Football is a funny game, how often does the best team win? In the Chargers’ loss they totaled 30 more yards than the Patriots, but more important was that the Chargers were in control the whole way. They were playing at home, with the best player (LaDainian Tomlinson) in the league and they gave the game away. The Patriot team they lost too is good. They aren’t as talented and as deep as they have been over the last several years, but they are still an experienced playoff team. Oregon’s successful college basketball replaces football University of Oregon sports fans have endured a lot of suffering this year. The football team got off to a hot start, winning its first four games including a controversial win against Oklahoma. Expectations were high; the Ducks were ranked No. 11 and had a big match up against No.16 California coming up. Talk of a Pac-10 title, a BCS bowl game and even whispers of a national championship were in the air. That day Oregon was humiliated 45-24. From there the season began a rapid spiral, during which they lost six of their final nine games including routs to USC, Arizona and BYU. The Ducks, not surprisingly, finished the season out of the top 25. A season that had begun so well and offered so much promise had become one of the worst in recent memory. Then came hoops season. The men’s basketball team this year jumped out of the gate and won a 64-year school record 13 straight games. It wasn’t until they played USC that they dropped their first of the season, in a heart-breaking two point game. As soon as the basketball team began winning the talk began: “Oh, they’ll fade just like football did.” Not this team folks. There are several factors to make me believe that this team deserves the No. 9 ranking. While most big-time college basketball programs schedule tough non-conference games, the Ducks managed to keep theirs competitive while not impossible, and with wins against Georgetown and Nebraska, legitimized the top 25 ranking. The Duck’s true indicator had nothing to do with their preseason 12 straight wins but rather with their opening six games of league play. They have skyrocketed to a 5-1 record in league play and have beaten UCLA, ranked number one at the time, and Arizona, ranked eighth. Both wins came in tight games against big time opponents, who will go deep into the NCAA tournament, come March. The Duck’s biggest advantage if they can maintain their level of play anywhere near it has been, will be their experience. The Pac-10 is the best league in the country, easily, and playing 18 games against tough competition will do nothing but prepare the Ducks for March. The Ducks success comes from several factors; they have a well-rounded team (five players currently average double figures in points), an extremely talented and experienced point guard who has displayed uncanny leadership skills and clutch shooting, and a cast of medium-sized wing men who are athletic and talented enough to win games. They are a very talented and have the right combination of experience, a tough schedule and team chemistry to do better than any Oregon team in recent NCAA tournament history. That is unless they implode after a tough loss like football did.