It’ll be quite the Civil War Spectacle this weekend on the hardwood. The Oregon Women, riding high at #3 in the nation and in first place in the Pac-12, will host #9 Oregon State on Friday then head to Corvallis on Monday for a rare back-to-back home-and-home series. In between these blockbusters, the Oregon men pay their visit to Gill Coliseum, looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss last month to begin conference play.
For the women, this will be yet another test from what is always a powerful Pac-12 conference on the ladies side. The women have only really been challenged by Arizona State so far in conference play, treating all other Pac-12 foes to back alley whippings. This past weekend had been viewed as a real test for the Ducks as they traveled to Palo Alto to face #11 Stanford, who in recent years had pretty much been the queens of the conference. The result: Oregon blasted them by 40. The women are 12-0 and have won 3 conference games by 40+. Sabrina Ionescu continues her tirade as a bonified National Player of the Year Candidate, Ruthy Hebard continues to dominate the paint, and Satou Sabally continues to be a matchup nightmare. But most importantly, Oregon continues its NCAA-best 16-game winning streak, and the question is starting to look more like can anyone from the conference hang with the ladies of Oregon? Oregon State, who until last season held a 14-game winning streak over Oregon, will get two shots in a four day span. Sweep the Beavers, and there just flat out may be no stopping Oregon in their quest for another outright conference championship and a potential 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
On the men’s side, things have been up and down as the team struggles to find consistency in a relatively weak Pac-12 conference that could easily still be up for grabs. It has seemed like every time Oregon nabs a potential momentum-building win (big road conquests at Arizona and Utah), they follow it up with a stinker (runaway wins for Arizona State and Colorado). Oregon won back-to back home games this past week against the bay area schools, finally getting them above .500 in conference play and building what could be some much needed momentum for another trademark Dana Altman late-season hot streak. Payton Pritchard found his way out of his recent slump, posting back-to-back 20+ point games. The Junior Point Guard shot lights out against Cal then torpedoed his way inside against Stanford. Despite the unfortunate loss of the game-changing Bol Bol the rest of the team appears to be finding their footing as well. Will Richardson and Victor Bailey Jr. are becoming more efficient with their offense, Ehab Amin continues to be a pest in full-court pressure and Kenny Wooten is essentially the masked terror in the paint with his rim protecting. Oregon’s defense on Sunday looked as good as it had all season and with consecutive wins under their belt now look to nab some serious momentum with a win against the Beavers, who have been playing good basketball this season but looked suspect in a home loss to Stanford this past week. A 3-game winning streak would be a perfect wave to ride into a road trip to the struggling L.A. schools.
So the name of the game is momentum. Can the women maintain theirs and can the men start some of their own? With March already looming on the horizon this Civil war bonanza should go a long way in determining how both teams finish out the home stretch.