Welcome back to the best time of the year, Duck fans. College basketball is finally back from what seemed like the longest offseason ever and the expectations are, once again, very high for Dana Altman’s team. Oregon is ranked #15 in the AP preseason poll, right around where they where ranked last year (#14 in 2018-2019). If you remember, the Ducks didn’t live up to that ranking during the preseason/regular season and the schedule they had last year was no where near as tough as it is this year. Oregon opens up this season with a pair of Mountain West teams that should not be taking lightly, Fresno State and Boise State.
2018-2019 record - 23-9 overall, 13-5 in conference (7-3 in away games)
2019-2020 KenPom Preseason Ranking - #106
Player to Watch For:
Noah Blackwell, Senior - (2018-2019 stats) 8.5 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Definitely need to always keep an eye on this guy if you’re the Ducks. He was only the fourth leading scorer on this team last year but with two seniors graduating, Blackwell should be the biggest offensive threat for the Bulldogs. A Long Beach State transfer, Noah can score on you in a variety of ways but makes his mark from beyond the three-point line. The 6’3” guard shot 41.5% from long range and should be even more efficient from there this season. He has steadily increased his totals in every stat category each year and is due for his breakout season in his final collegiate season.
Fresno State @ #15 Oregon - 9:00 PM ET, PAC12 Network on Tuesday, November 5th
68-57, Ducks over Bulldogs
In what should be a back-and-forth affair, don’t be worried if you see some ugly moments from Oregon in this one. This is a completely revamped squad with seven new faces and only four returning payers who highly contributed last season. Their will be growing pains with this squad but they should be able to pull out a victory in their first game of the season.
2018-2019 record - 13-20 overall, 7-11 in conference
2019-2020 KenPom Preseason Ranking - #101
Player to Watch For:
Justinian Jessup, Senior - (2018-2019 stats) 14.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.1 SPG
I love nothing more than a smooth leftie who shoots three-pointers from anywhere on the court. Justinian is lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 41.0 3P% last season and 45.7 3P% the year before. If the 6’7” guard is left open even the slightest bit, he will make you pay.
Boise State @ #15 Oregon 11:00 PM ET, PAC12 Network on Saturday, November 9th
65-61, Ducks over Broncos
Don’t let their record from last year fool you, this team is more experienced and returning a lot of their key players from last season (Derrick Alston, Alex Hobbs, Marcus Dickinson). When it comes down to it though, their bench is weak and will be the leading factor to a loss for the Broncos.
Look for Payton Pritchard (who was recently named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List) to start off the season on a strong note. He will be getting all those around him involved early on and then find himself attacking Boise State’s weak spots on defense. This is Pritchard’s team and this will be his best season yet.
*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho