Oregon returns to Matthew Knight Arena to take on the Stanford Cardinal, surprsingly the most accomplished team in the conference. They have nonconference victories against Oklahoma State and NC State, and swept the Los Angeles schools in Palo Alto to open Pac-12 play. They have a somewhat puzzling home loss to Butler, but their other loss was a de facto road game against #1 Syracuse at MSG, and that was down to the last minute.
Stanford's success isn't because they are a super talented team, its because they do a lot of the effort things well. The Cardinal rank #10 in the country in defensive efficiency, as opponents get only 87.1 points per 100 possessions. They play a very intesne man defense, making shots very difficult (an opponents' eFG% of 43.1) and getting a turnover on 24.6% of their opponents' possessions (24th in the country). They rebound incredibly well, having one of the bes t offensive rebounding percentages, and one of the lowest opposing offensive rebounding percentages in the country. These all spell trouble for an Oregon team that hasn't been very good at rebounding the basketball or getting easy interior buckets. It will all make an interesting clash of styles-Oregon wanting to run and get the tempo up, Stanford wanting slow the game to a halt and grind it out.
The first thing that stands out about Stanford is their depth-ten guys averaging over 13 minutes a game-and this is likely a key to them maintaining their defensive intensity. Stanford has three bi g guns on offense, all averaging right around the twelve points per game. Forward Josh Owens scores only inside and hits at about a 60% clip, point guard Aaron Bright is 48% from downtown, and Chaisson Randle may be their most dynamic player, being able to both create his own shot and shoot the three. This isn't the most efficient offense-their assist to turnover ratio is less than 1:1, and they turn the ball over a lot-but they make enough plays to give their defense a chance to win. They are a fairly balanced rebounding team as well-six guys get three or more a game-with Owens and Josh Huestis getting six and five, respectively, but watch out for their good rebounding guards. 6'11" center Andrew Zimmerman will start, but his skillset is limited and he won't actually play very much. There are no egos on this team, and no one player that is going to take over a game, but together they make enough plays to beat most teams they play because they only take very high percentage shots.
Four Factors Preview:
eFG%: Stanford 52.1 (71), Oregon 51.6 (82)
Very similar marks for both teams in the eFG% department, as both tend to shoot pretty good shots. The difference, of course, is that Oregon will be shooting against a much better defense than Stanford will be. Nonetheless, is could get really sloppy.
Turnover %: Oregon 20.7 (154), Stanford 22.3 (244)
We have a team that not only turns the ball over more that Oregon, but does so substantially more. Of course, Stanford is also elite at causing turnovers defensively (24th), while Oregon is one of the worst teams in the country at doing so (288th
Offensive Rebounding %: Stanford 37.5 (37), Oregon 28.8 (276)
No way to sugar coat it, we are screwed on the boards. Absolutely screwed.
Free Throw Rate: Oregon 45.9 (26) Stanford 42.1 (71)
I still find it so strange that Oregon, such a perimeter oriented team, gets to the line so frequently.
Keys to the game:
Control the tempo—Stanford wants to muck the game up. Oregon needs to press and push, and get the Cardinal playing at a tempo they are uncomfortable with.
Stay even on the boards—I fear that Oregon is going to be destroyed in the rebounding department. To win, they need to prove me wrong.
Hit 80% from the line—Stanford will challenge Oregon’s offense in a lot of ways. Oregon should continue to get to the line frequently. With field goals hard to come by, they need to maximize those opportunities.