As 2017 comes to an end, 2018 shines bright with unlimited potential for Oregon Athletics. With a new month upon us, here are three Oregon teams to keep an eye on and cheer loudly for in January:
Women's Basketball is a Force
Behind the stellar play of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and the rest of the deep and talented roster, Oregon's Women's Basketball is a top ten ranked squad capable of winning the Pac-12 and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, the Ducks started slowly in Pac-12 play, gaining both valuable experience and confidence as the season progressed. Fast forward to this year and the squad is ready to show the nation they are a legit threat to knock off any team at any time.
Coach Kelly Graves has done a marvelous job challenging his squad early on this season. While the Ducks have lost to top-five ranked Louisville and Mississippi State over the past month and a half, they've also beaten top-20 ranked Texas A&M twice.
Oregon, ranked #10 in the country, is now considered a co-favorite with UCLA to win the Pac-12. No doubt this squad still has plenty of room to grow and improve this season, which makes it all the more fun to follow along, as the squad seeks to put their stamp on the women's basketball world.
Men's Basketball is a Work in Progress
After the magical Final Four run of last season, the Oregon Men's Basketball team is a completely different squad in 2017-18. Coach Dana Altman brought in an extremely talented freshmen class, led by five-star recruit Troy Brown. Additionally, he brought in a pair of key transfers and former Georgetown transfer Paul White could finally play after sitting out a year.
The Ducks have had their ups and downs over the first two months of the season. Sporting a 10-3 record, the Ducks haven't beaten any ranked teams just yet, but they've seemingly found their groove over the past five games, going 5-0 and winning by an average of 13 points.
Two of Oregon's three losses were to very good teams. Oklahoma currently ranks #12 in the country and could be one of the true surprises of the 2017-18 season. Boise State, who ended the Ducks' home court win streak, is a legit NCAA Tournament bubble team with a strong chance to win the Mountain West.
Coach Altman has started to see his starting unit gel, with players finding their roles, while the bench is also hitting its stride. Opening Pac-12 play this Friday, Oregon squares off against Utah. A fast start to the Pac-12 season not only is the key to success for this squad to continue to build momentum, but is needed if they hope to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Women's Track and Field Set to Defend Title
Last year, Oregon Women's Track and Field team won the sport's triple crown, earning national titles in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field. It's the first time in NCAA that's happened.
While the cross country squad missed out on a national title this fall, finishing fifth, the women's track and field team is poised to challenge for top prize both indoors and outdoors once again. Led by star sprinters Hannah Cunliffe and Ariana Washington (pictured), distance runner Katie Rainsberger and numerous top-flight freshmen, the Ducks have both top talent and depth capable of helping bolster their point totals.
The Ducks look to become the first back-to-back champions outdoors since Texas A&M won three in a row from 2009-2011, while continuing their indoor dominance, having won seven of the past eight indoor national titles.