Can Ducks echo The Tall Firs after 78 years?

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What’s changed in 78 years? Quite a bit.

When the Oregon Ducks won the 1st-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1939, it was long before the tourney was nicknamed “March Madness.” But the team had a nickname: The Tall Firs.

Franklin Roosevelt was president. World War 2 hadn’t yet started. The World’s Fair in New York was set to begin. “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” were both new releases in theaters.

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The game was different. It was the era of the 2-handed set shot, a hook shot from the top of the free-throw line, defenses allowing players breathing space, contact that truly was incidental.

The uniforms were relatively standard issue: home teams wore white, road teams a dark color. The shorts were short and no one wore Nikes — because Nikes weren’t invented.

That year, the Ducks beat Texas, 56-41, then beat Oklahoma, 55-37. In the title game, they smothered Ohio State, 46-33.

Since that time, the Ducks have been to the Big Dance 14 more times, but never even got back to the Final 4. In fact, the Ducks went 34 years between appearances in the tournament, from 1961 to 1995.

Now, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is big business. The games are televised, streamed, photographed and tweeted. Fans travel from their home base to root their team on to victory. Reporters flock to Media Day to hear the latest pronouncement from players, coaches and analysts.

But in the end the game is the same: whoever has more points at the end is the winner. The loser goes home.

The Chicago Cubs shook off a 108-year drought between World Series championships. This tournament the Ducks are in a position to do something they haven’t done in 78 years — win the title.

It’s a large order ready made for Tall Firs named Bell, Pritchard, Dorsey, Brooks and Ennis.

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