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Talkin’ Tall Firs: Dealing With Injuries While PAC-12 Crown is on the Line

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A PAC-12 title is well in grasp for the Ducks during the final week of conference play but it won’t come easy

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Stanford D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Not only does #13 Oregon (22-7, 11-5) have a chance of winning the PAC-12 regular season title this Saturday but what makes it even better is that it can come on senior night. Nothing would be more sweet than for Payton Pritchard, one of the best basketball players to come out of the university, to go out on top in his final game at Matthew Knight Arena. Duck fans will also have a chance to show thanks for Payton’s dedication to the Oregon community as well as gratitude for the hard work both Anthony Mathis and Shakur Juiston have put in during their one year stay in Eugene.

If the Ducks want that banner to hang up in the rafters and to receive the #1 seed for the PAC-12 Tournament along with it, there are a couple of ways it can go down. Win your two last remaining games and you get at least a share of the title. If UCLA loses at USC on Saturday and Oregon wins both of their last games, then the Ducks will be the outright champions of the PAC-12 (Oregon wins the tiebreaker over UCLA since they beat the Bruins on January 26th).

It unfortunately won’t come easy for the Ducks though. After Chris Duarte missed the Civil War game last week, the junior guard will continue to not be playing this week and in the PAC-12 Tournament next week due to a broken finger on his shooting hand. The hope is that he will be back for March Madness. Also, Will Richardson might not be able to go Thursday as he is dealing with an ankle injury which means Oregon could only have three healthy guards in the rotation. Mathis is going to have to step up with a couple big-time performances. Let’s see if he can shoot the lights out like he he did during the preseason against Boise State, Houston, or at Michigan.

Duarte’s energy and defensive presence will be deeply missed but this team knows that everyone needs to contribute more in his absence. This is an opportunity for guys like Chandler Lawson, CJ Walker, or Addison Patterson to move into a bigger role. One of those guys in the background needs to bring some spark to this team both on the glass and in the passing lanes with Duarte on the sideline.

California Golden Bears (13-16, 7-9)

Wins - Pepperdine, UNLV, Cal Baptist, Prairie Valley, UC Davis, Fresno State, Washington State, Washington, Stanford, Oregon State, @ Washington State, #21 Colorado, Utah

Losses - #1 Duke, #22 Texas, @ San Francisco, @ Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, Boston College, Harvard, @ Stanford, @ USC, @ UCLA, #11 Oregon, @ #24 Colorado, @ Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, @ Washington

KenPom Ranking - #155

Key Numbers:

  • 63.7 points per game
  • 32.8 rebounds per game
  • 9.1 assists per game
  • 2.4 blocks per game
  • 4.0 steals per game
  • 68.8 points allowed per game
  • 42.3 field goal percentage

Player to Watch For:

Matt Bradley, Sophomore - 17.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG

Game Time:

California @ #13 Oregon - 11:00 PM ET, ESPN2 on Thursday, March 5th

Score Prediction:

85-74, Ducks over Golden Bears

Stanford Cardinal (20-9, 9-7)

Wins - Montana, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, Santa Clara, Maryland Eastern-Shore, William and Mary, Oklahoma, UNC Wilmington, @ San Jose State, San Francisco, San Diego, California, Washington, Washington State, @ UCLA, #11 Oregon, @ Washington, @ Washington State, Utah, #21 Colorado

Losses - Butler, #5 Kansas, @ USC, @ California, Oregon State, @ Utah, @ #24 Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona

KenPom Ranking - #34

Key Numbers:

  • 70.3 points per game
  • 33.3 rebounds per game
  • 13.0 assists per game
  • 3.9 blocks per game
  • 7.0 steals per game
  • 61.7 points allowed per game (11th in the nation)
  • 47.5 field goal percentage

Player to Watch For:

Tyrell Terry, Freshman - 15.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45.8 FG%

Game Time:

Stanford @ #13 Oregon - 11:00 PM ET, FS1 on Saturday, March 7th

Score Prediction:

74-69, Ducks over Cardinal

*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho