MBB Game 14 Preview and Open Thread: Oregon Ducks at Washington Huskies

Oregon Ducks (10-3, 1-0) at Washington Huskies (7-5, 1-0)
7:00 PT, Alaska Airlines Arena
TV: ESPN2
KenPom Ratings: Oregon (97), Washington (60)
KenPom Prediction: Washington 81, Oregon 73

After starting the season with a surprising blowout win against Washington State, the Ducks travel to Seattle to take on the hated Huskies. Washington took out Oregon State in the Pac-12 opener, but has had mixed results this season. At 7-5, Washington took Duke and Marquette to the buzzer, but also lost to Nevada, and got blown out by South Dakota State at home. The stats say that Washington should be much better than the record indicates: they are 35th in the country in offensive efficiency, and rank in the top 100 in three of the four factors. The defense, however, hasn't been as good, and it is that end of the ball where they have let down. They are also 16th in pace, which should make for a good up and down flow by both squads. The good news for all you out of state Ducks is that this is a rare ESPN2 broadcast, meaning the entire nation will get to see the Pac-12's ineptitude.


It always seems like every Washington player is long and athletic, and this year's squad is no exception. Abdul Gaddy mas the point at 6'3", and only get larger as Darnell Gant, CJ Wilcox, Terrance Ross all come of the bench measuring between 6'6" and 6'8", then Aziz N'Diaye rounds out the starting lineup at 7'0". 5* freshman Tony Wroten is the first man off the bench, and he can play either guard spot at 6'5" When you think about running lineups with combinations of Garrett Sim (6'1"), Johnathan Loyd (5'10") and Brett Kingma (6'0"), you're giving up a lot of size. However, they've had the size and athleticism advantage against a lot of clubs, but the stats say that really hasn't translated to defensive numbers. They score 81 a game, but give up 76, and the only teams they've really blown out are Houston Baptist, Cal State Northridge, and Georgia State.

Offensively, we know what the Huskies are going to do, and they are going to run. Wroten, despite not starting most of the season, leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game. He is the guy to key in on, and when he is on the floor, a staggering 35% of Washington's possessions end with Wroten either taking a shot or committing a turnover. That's a staggering number for anyone not name Kobe or LeBron, and ranks #5 out of any player in the country. As a point of comparison, Tajuan Porter, in his worst season, was at just over 27%. The story on Wroten is that, while he is obviously talented, he also can play out of control, and averages over four turnovers a game.

Washington has two players who are much more efficient, getting almost 15 a game without the turnover baggage. Terrence Ross is a better shooter and rebounder while only committing half the turnovers that Wroten does, and CJ Wilcox gives you another 15 a game on far few shots and only one turnover. Gant and N'Diaye give you a ton of rebounds (about 16 combined per game), and Gaddy runs the show (5.8 assists) and all three of them give you another 8-9 point each. Add Desmond Simmons, who is shooting almost 42% from downtown, and you only have an 8 man Washington rotation. But they won't wear out because they are used to getting the tempo going as fast as possible. They have a ton more talent that Oregon does, and it will be a challenge to keep up with them offensively.

FOUR FACTORS PREVIEW:

eFG%: Oregon 53.1 (45) Washington 52.1 (70)

Oregon has the edge here, but both teams shoot the ball very well.

Turnover %: Washington 19.2 (85), Oregon 20.6 (149)

Oregon isn't as bad in this department as you would think if you watched them all season. Washington doesn't commit a ton of turnovers as a team, especially for an uptempo one, Wroten notwithstanding. Interestingly enough, both teams are among the worst in the country (ranking in the 280s) at creating turnovers.

Offensive Rebounding %: Washington 38.0 (32), Oregon 28.2 (287)

This is the most glaring difference. Oregon has been terrible on the boards, on both ends, and Washington is really, really good. As I said in the Wazzu recap, the Ducks looked a lot better on the boards in that game, especially Olu Ashaolu. They'll have to get after it in this one. This is my biggest worry.

Free Throw Rate: Oregon 47.3 (18), Washington 34.1 (215)

Its so strange that Oregon, a perimeter oriented team, is one of the best in the country at getting to the line. Washington isn't so great at it. Neither team is any good at making them once they get there, Oregon shooting 67% as a team, Washington shooting 64%.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Keep Washington off the offensive boards:

Oregon is a good team at forcing opposing teams into tough shots. However, all too often, that has simply led to an offensive rebound and easy putback. Washington feasts on the offensive boards. With Oregon's size, there has never been any excuse. Washington State was a good first step. Time to build on it.

Hold onto the ball:

Washington isn't good at forcing turnovers. Oregon will do themselves a big favor if they don't help UW in that regard.

Shoot 75% from the line:

The Ducks should get a lot more free throw opportunities than the Huskies. If they can do a good job capitalizing on those, I like Oregon's chances at the upset.

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