The Arizona Wildcats will take on the Oregon Ducks this Thursday at McKale Center in Tucson. In anticipation of that game, we took a look from the fans' perspective at who to watch, what to watch for, and why you should watch this game.
Who to watch
Oregon is a very talented bunch, but Dillon Brooks is the best player on the team. Brooks made the All-Pac-12 Freshman team last year but has nevertheless managed to get considerably better. He plays 33+ minutes a game for the Ducks, averages over 16 points per game, and manages to put up 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while he's at it. He's a complete player and will be a problem for the Wildcats.
Another name Arizona fans may already be familiar with is Tyler Dorsey. Dorsey was once committed to the Wildcats before Arizona got a little more interested in Allonzo Trier. Dorsey, to his credit, has had a solid freshman season, averaging over 13 points per game while shooting 45% from three. I'm worried that he'll come in with something to prove against the Wildcats, and if he's being guarded by Gabe York and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, I think he'll tear the Arizona defense apart.
Perhaps the most fun guy on the Ducks, though, is Chris Boucher. Boucher is 6'10" and 190 pounds. He averages 3.3 blocks per game. He attempts 2.9 three pointers per game, and he makes about a third of them. Basically, he is a shorter version of Manute Bol, with the same super-thin frame, the same ability to block shots, and the same tendency to occasionally shoot three pointers like crazy. Boucher will, at a minimum, be an interesting guy to watch.
What to watch
Oregon is a good offensive team. They're currently ranked second in the Pac-12 in offensive efficiency (behind only Arizona), so, at first glance, this game looks like it might be a bit of an up-and-down game.
It probably won't be, though. Though the Ducks are good offensively, they don't play particularly quickly and are ranked eighth in the conference in pace. Strangely, though, they don't get to the line very often, ranking next-to-last in free throw attempts per field goal attempt.
How can a team be so good offensively without pushing the pace or getting to the line? They make it rain from three. Though they don't necessarily shoot the three that well - as a team, they're at 37.2% in conference play - the Ducks shoot a lot of threes, with nearly 35% of their field goal attempts coming from behind the three point line and over 30% of their points coming from three pointers during the conference slate.
The odd thing? All of this has pretty much only started happening during conference play. In conference play, Oregon's pace has slowed, it hasn't gotten to the line as often, it's shot more three pointers, and, above all, it has been more reliant on the three pointer for scoring. It hasn't hurt their efficiency, obviously, but it's interesting to see how different Oregon's season-long metrics look compared to its conference-only metrics.
Why you should watch
This one is easy - these are probably the two best teams in the Pac-12. Even after losing late to Cal on Saturday, the Wildcats are one of the best teams in the conference, and Oregon has done almost everything it could possibly do to keep pace. Unfortunately for the Ducks, this game is in Tucson, where the Wildcats have a zillion game winning streak (approximately). Still, Arizona is only a 7.5 point favorite in Vegas, and this should be an exciting game that the Wildcats will hopefully win.
The Wildcats and Ducks are scheduled to tip at 7 PM MST on ESPN2. To everyone's relief, Dave Pasch and Bill Walton will be on the call.