This afternoon, the No. 16 Oregon Ducks will square off against the Utah Utes in Eugene. We talk with Shane Roberts of Block U, SB Nation's Utah Utes blog, about today's game.
Be sure to check out Block U for more coverage surrounding today's game between the Ducks and Utes.
The last time these two teams faced, Oregon handed Utah their third loss in four games. Since then, the Utes have won five of their last six games. What do you attribute the turnaround to?
They are simply just playing better. Early on they were missing shots they normally make, playing extremely sloppy and their defense wasn't very good. The team has finally clicked in and is playing closer to the team we were expecting.
Oregon defeated Utah 77-59 back on January 14 in Salt Lake City. What adjustments does Utah need to make to avoid a similar outcome?
Not play as bad as they did back in January, which I don't know is possible. That was about as bad as I've seen Utah play in a while. Utah missed so many open shots, was sloppy with the ball, and forgot basic defensive fundamentals at times.
Who is the main player that Oregon needs to focus on shutting down?
Jakob Poeltl, who will be a lottery pick. When he's aggressive, he's boarder line unstoppable. He's also a great passer, and the only thing that has slowed him down at times this year is foul trouble.
The Pac-12 is such a tight race this year as five teams are within two games of first place. Where do you rank the Utes in this conference and how do you see the season playing out?
I think Utah, as a team, is a top two or three team in this conference. The two blown games against Stanford and now Oregon State hurt bad in terms of regular season title hopes, but as you said they're still within striking distance. They're for sure a tournament team, and a team I don't know people would want to see in post season play. With a dominate big man, if the perimeter guys are locked in, they could see quite a run in March.
Prediction time. Who wins on Sunday and who is the MVP of the game?
It depends on their mental state after blowing the game in Corvallis. Oregon has always been a tough matchup for Utah, so I'm going to go with the Ducks, but if Utah is locked in between the ears, they could walk away with the win.
As for MVP, probably Dillon Brooks. He's been playing good ball.