MBB Game 18 Preview and Open Thread: Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats

Oregon Ducks (12-5, 3-2) at Arizona Wildcats (12-5, 3-1)
12:30 PM :: McKale Center :: Tuscon, Arizona
TV: CBS
Pomeroy Rankings :: Arizona (46) :: Oregon (104)
Pomeroy Prediction: Arizona 70-61

Coming off a road win in Tempe, Oregon wraps up the Arizona trip by heading down south to take on the Wildcats in Tucson. Arizona comes off a contentious win against Oregon State. Like ASU, Arizona is a team that will try to slow down the pace--ranking 256th in tempo, but unilke the Sun Devils, the Wildcats are very good defensively. With an aggressive man-to-man, they rank 32nd in the nation in defensive efficiency. Its actually a fairly poor matchup for the Ducks, as UA opponents make 26% of their three pointers--6th worst in the country. The Wildcats aren't going to let EJ, Devoe, and Garrett stand back and hit threes. The posts--Woods and Ashaolu in particular--are going to have to step up with big games to get a win in the desert.

While the inconsistency of Oregon's post make me question the probability of that happening, Arizona certainly has a roster that can be taken advantage of on the interior. Their biggest rotation player is 6'7". That said, Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill, despite their size disadvantaged at 6'6" and 6'7", are quite the load. Both average 12 points and between 7-8 rebounds per game. Both players can work on the block, but also step outside and hit the three. And both are hard workers on the defensive boards (Arizona as a team doesn't do a whole lot of offensive rebounding). Kevin Parrom, also 6-6", has a similar skillset and backs them up, but he doesn't look the same after being shot in the offseason.

Arizona also has a trio of stellar guards in Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, and Josiah Turner. Fogg and Johnson can both light it up both on the drive and from downtown. Turner was supposed to be a one and done type player, but hasn't handled the transition to college basketball as well as everyone thought. Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender round out the rotation, and both seem to be three point specialists (Lavender hit six threes against Oregon State). In some ways, Arizona's roster reminds me of Washington: they're all freaky athletic and can all shoot from anywhere on the floor. However, the lack height and, at only eight men, the rotation is fairly small in numbers (although unlike ASU, they are not so dependent on one player that you can just wear that one guy out).

FOUR FACTORS PREVIEW:

eFG%: This is basically a wash at 51.4 for Oregon and 51.7 for Arizona. The difference is that the Wildcats are an elite defense, and opponents only have an eFG% of 44% (and 26.5% from three). Oregon is very average defensively at 48%. (ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA)

Turnover %: Oregon has improved by leaps and bounds in this category, and with a turnover percentage of 20.2% of possessions is threatening to break into the top-100 in that stat with a few more good performances. What an amazing turnaround. Arizona's stats are very similar at 19.8. Both teams are very poor at forcing turnovers, so we should see a clean game. (TOSS-UP)

Offensive Rebounding %: Neither team does a whole lot of offensive rebounding, both ranking in the low 200s. The amazing thing is that Oregon is also threatening to break into the top-100 as far as not giving up offensive rebounds (Arizona is comfortably there). Like the turnover %, we see major improvement in a problem area. Altman's teams definitely get better as the season goes on. (TOSS UP)

FTA/FGA: Oregon shoots 44 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts, ranking 43rd in the nation and something that has been their biggest advantage all season. Increasingly, they don't foul at all, and the fact that they only give up 27 free throws per 100 field goal attempts makes them 19th in the country in that statistic. Arizona is also above average at getting to the line, ranking 76th with 40 FTs per FGA, but they'll also foul a bit defensively you defensively, giving up 34 FTs 100 FTA. The metrics say Oregon should have the free throw advantage. (ADVANTAGE: OREGON)

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • Use the posts -- Arizona plays tough defense, and makes it especially tough to get open looks at three. Oregon's posts have the size advantage, and if one can have a big game, it could get UA's bigs in foul trouble, but also start to open up some outside shots for Oregon's guards.
  • Win the free throw battle -- The metrics say that the Ducks should do this. Oregon needs to get some easy ones to make up for Arizona's defense.
  • Set the tempo -- Run these guys. Getting the pace up should again help neutralize Arizona's defensive advantage.
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