Oregon Ducks vs. UCLA Bruins

The Matt Court will play host to a crucial Pac-12 matchup between the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins at 1:00 PT (4:00 ET). The Bruins are 3-3 in conference play and are coming off of a narrow 87-84 loss against the Oregon State Beavers.  The Wear brothers had 16 points each, but their efficient offensive outputs weren’t enough to down Jared Cunninghm and Devon Collier. The Oregon Ducks are relevant again in the Pac-12 and are 5-2 in the conference behind their big three of Garrett Sim, Devoe Joseph, and E.J. Singler. However, the Bruins are the more talented squad overall and are beginning to creep back up the conference ladder. The outcome of this game could turn the tables in the Pac-12, so expect this game to feature some top performances from both sides.

UCLA is arguably the most talented team in the conference, but they have struggled all season with consistency. They are solid offensively with three stars in Lazeric Jones, Joshua Smith, and Travis Wear. Smith and Wear have PERs of 25.7 and 25.2 respectively (the second and third best totals in the conference). Jones has the eighth highest PER and is the only player on the team worth one whole win on defense according to Sports Reference’s DWS (Defensive Win Shares). Wear is the team’s most efficient player with a true shooting percentage over 60%, and Smith is the best defensive player of the three of them.

It goes beyond PER for Smith, because his rebounding rate of 17.9% is the fourth best in the Pac-12; he is easily the best rebounder who will be playing in this game. The Oregon Ducks severely lack a strong group of players on the glass, as only Olu Ashaolu and Tony Woods are deemed respectable in this regard.

Travis’s brother David is the fourth wheel on the Bruins, and he has a more than respectable PER of 18.9. His rebounding rate is barely under Ashaolu’s, and he is the second best rebounder on the team. Woods is the Ducks fourth wheel and has an 18.7 PER this season and is the best defensive player on the team. Woods will be the best defensive player in this game, with UCLA’s defensive star Josh Smith right behind him. The Ducks will need Woods to lock down on Jones and the Wear brothers if the Ducks want to continue to rise in the conference.

These two teams will put on a show this afternoon in Eugene, but the Bruins are the more talented team. The Ducks victories over USC and Arizona were less than convincing, but the encouraging aspect of both performances is that they didn’t completely blow the game after some shaky moments. However, the Ducks never should have let both games get as close as they did- the Trojans are one of the worst teams in the conference.

Comparing past performances against shared opponents is one way to define boundaries in skill, and the UCLA Bruins shredded USC 66-47 on the 15th of January. They also defeated the Wildcats by double-digits, so it seems like they are the more talented team. The Ducks signature win was their 11-point thrashing of a favored Stanford squad, whereas the Bruins stumbled to a one-point loss against the Cardinal.

This game will come down to overall talent and efficiency. The Bruins are undoubtedly the more talented team, but the Ducks have the advantage in terms of overall efficiency. The Ducks will win this game, because they will play efficient basketball and defend their home court against the Bruins. A win for the Ducks will give them the inside track in the conference, but a loss would have them leapfrogged by the Bruins in the power rankings. It’s tough to call this game, because the Bruins are the better team talent-wise. However, basketball goes beyond talent. The Oregon Ducks will win 68-67 in a back-and-forth classic, but it is difficult to feel comfortable when predicting this game. Regardless of who wins, though I hope the Ducks win, this will be a great basketball game.

Answer the poll at the bottom with your pick, and please leave a comment below explaining your logic behind your decision.

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Tags: Arizona Wildcats Basketball David Wear Devoe Joseph Devon Collier E.J. Singler Garrett Sim Jared Cunningham Joshua Smith Lazeric Jones Matt Court Olu Ashaolu Oregon State Beavers Stanford Cardinal Tony Woods Travis Wear UCLA Bruins USC Trojans

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