The Oregon Ducks will play their second straight game at the Matt Court against the best team in the conference after easily defeating the second best Pac-12 team. The California Golden Bears, however, pose an entirely new threat to the Ducks; Cali is the only legit team in this conference. The Bears are better than their RPI of 50, and their 12-4 record doesn’t do them much justice. Oregon is 11-4, but they aren’t only a half a game back in terms of quality; California is definitely the better team. The Ducks simply don’t have a big three that is as talented as Justin Cobbs, Allen Crabbe, and Jorge Gutierrez. But that doesn’t mean that Oregon won’t put up a fight, because their 11-point victory over Stanford shows that this team has something else inside of them. And oh yeah, Devoe Joseph is pretty good too.
Really, their victory over the Cardinal was due to Joseph’s 30 point outburst, and the man averages a team-high 15.2 points per game. Only Allen Crabbe averages more coming into this game, and Joseph has a team-high PER. However, Gutierrez and Cobbs best that and have 23.6 and 23.3 PERs respectively. E.J. Singler and Garrett Sim each have PERs over 20, but the Golden Bears big three is simply better than the Ducks triumvirate.
However, things go beyond offensive efficiency, and being able to stop efficient scorers is also extremely important. The Ducks are subpar on defense, while California is an above-average defensive team overall with Gutierrez, David Kravish, and the formidable Richard Solomon in the interior. The Ducks don’t have any stars on defense, and they really won’t be able to compete against a team that shoots 48.8% from the floor but allows only 40.6% of the shots against them to be hit.
The Ducks will also be outrebounded, as only Olu Ashaolu can somewhat compete with Solomon and Kravish; the Ducks are relatively weak overall on the boards. The Bears are the 7th best team from 3-point range, and every player in their big three excels from beyond the arc. After all, they only shoot 42.8% from downtown as a team.
The best chance that the Ducks have at winning this game is playing efficient basketball and limiting their turnovers. Even that might not be enough, and the Golden Bears are the more talented team from top to bottom and in just about every way. They are the better rebounding team and are easily better on defense. California is the only team in this conference that has a good chance of doing any damage this year, and the Ducks are about to be damaged tonight. I see this game ending up as a 75-60 defeat for the Ducks, with Gutierrez doing most of the damage.