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PORTLAND -- Every year one team gets robbed, or one selection or seeding leaves everyone scratching their heads.

After this year's NCAA tournament brackets were revealed, the Ducks were the talk of the town at water coolers all over Portland and across America.

The Ducks won 26 games this season. They posted a 12-6 mark in conference play. Oregon finished the Pac-12 season in a 2nd place tie. And to top it all off, they won the Pac-12 tournament championship with a win over UCLA. It was the second time they had beaten the Bruins this season. Those would be the NCAA tourney 6th-seeded Bruins.

Oregon also recorded a win over 6th-seeded Arizona, and won in Las Vegas to end a long home winning streak for 5th-seeded UNLV.

So while fans bemoan the team's fate, the Ducks and the University of Oregon just got 24 hours worth of free publicity. Nike should capitalize on this by sending the Ducks to San Jose with some outlandish uniform combination. Or, the Ducks could simply win a round or two at the HP Pavilion, and advance to the Sweet-16.

We didn't win the conference tournament, or play the regular season just to go and have fun, Coach Dana Altman said of the NCAA Tournament. We're going to go to play and win.

Doing that would certainly take advantage of the added notoriety. Truth is, Oregon basketball hasn't mattered much since 2007 when Ernie Kent led Malik Hairston, Maarty Leunen and Bryce Taylor to the Elite 8. Altman has done a remarkable job of bringing the program back to respectability. Now, show the world that the 12 seed designation was comical, by becoming one of the nation's best 16 teams.

It won't be easy, as Oklahoma State, their first opponent, was really close to Kansas all year in the Big-12 conference. Then they'd likely have to play a quality University of St. Louis team, if they survive New Mexico State.

Inside the downtown Portland Duck Store, one Oregon fan hit this scenario so accurately on the head, you'd almost wish he was shooting threes for the Ducks.

It's the tournament, Nate Wood said. Makes it more exciting. Gives us a chance to root for an underdog.

The UO graduate student is choosing to look at the glass slipper as being half full. Hoping Oregon can be this year's Cinderella. Most fans feel they deserved better than the upstart label that goes with being a 12 seed. But if they channel it properly, the free publicity could extend into next week. As Oregon officials will tell you, publicity ain't a bad thing.

Sometimes robbery can be rewarding.

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