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Pac-12 Basketball preview: Know Your Nemesis - Oregon

The Ducks lost a Pac-12 Player of the Year and still might be better than a year ago.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We're getting close to the end. Let's learn about a ninth nemesis.

This one is about a consistently competitive foe. They've been to three-straight NCAA tournaments and have finished 3rd or better in the conference the last four years. Next up: The Oregon Ducks.

The Coach...

I'm one to sing the praises of Sean Miller all day. But, if there's one coach that can compete on just about any level with Coach Miller, it's Oregon head man, Dana Altman. Altman is entering year six with the Ducks and the first five have been a success. Year one was the only year Altman's Ducks finished below .500 in the conference and with less than 24+ wins in the season. He's also taken the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament three-consecutive years. Oddly enough, that's actually the first time in program history that Oregon has gone to the tourney three years in a row.

There's no reason to believe that the run will stop there. Despite the fact that they're losing the man that won last year's Pac-12 player of the year award, Joseph Young, who led the team with 20.7 points and 3.8 assists per game, Altman is responding to that quite well. They've got the 15th-ranked recruiting class coming in, according to rivals.com. Plus, several transfers looking to contribute immediately, including the National Junior College player of the year. As long as Oregon's got Altman, there's no reason for them to worry.

The Roster...

There may not be a standout guy to pick on the '15-16 Ducks. But they'll have plenty of depth. Difference makers returning from last year's squad include senior forwards, Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin and sophomores, Dillon Brooks, Casey Benson and Jordan Bell. Their big time recruit, Tyler Dorsey, will play a large part, especially offensively. What intrigues me most about this roster is their two big transfers. 6'10'' center, Chris Boucher, won last year's National JUCO player of the year averaging 22 and 12 on 58% shooting. Big man's got range too, as he shot 44% from 3. The other transfer is former Villanova guard, Dylan Ennis, as he's chosen to spend his final year of eligibility with the Ducks. He brings a ton of experience to a young, but deep, team.

Games versus Arizona...

Jan. 28 @ McKale Center

The Projected Starting Five...

C Chris Boucher

F Elgin Cook

F Dillon Brooks

G Tyler Dorsey

G Casey Benson

Cook and Brooks are returning. Benson steps up after a solid freshman year. Dorsey and Boucher might be new to the team but they look to make a difference right away. Jordan Bell is expected to start at some point, perhaps at the expense of Boucher, but he won't be there to start the season with a foot injury that occurred back in March. Ennis is also expected to start but he may miss the entire non-conference schedule with a foot injury.

The Best Case Scenario...

If all this talent can gel together, this can be the best Oregon team Altman has had to this point, especially if Bell and Boucher can be the rim protectors they potentially can be. Altman's teams historically can score with the best of them but do allow points in return. If this squad can shore up the defense AND be an elite offense...the sky is the limit.

The Prediction...

Oregon WILL make the tournament for a 4th consecutive season. I have little doubt of that. There's not much to worry about on this team beyond how well they might defend the perimeter. I'll also make a little prediction that has no real basis, it's just a guess: I think this team wins the Pac-12 tournament in March. But I've got 'em at 4th place in the conference, record of 12-6, 4th straight year of winning at least a game in the Big Dance.