The Pac-12 is a wild mess these days with teams beating each other up and dropping left and right. The Arizona Wildcats find themselves tied for third place with a 4-3 conference record after falling to Cal last Saturday night.
One of the two teams ahead of Arizona in the Pac-12 is Tucson-bound this Thursday night as the Wildcats square off with the Oregon Ducks (16-4, 5-2 in conference) in a top 25 showdown. Arizona will be looking for its 50th consecutive victory at McKale Center, while Oregon looks to avenge their three losses against Arizona from a year ago, where they lost by an average of 26.6 points.
What will it take for the Ducks to get the job done? Can they break the streak? Could this game decide the Pac-12? I asked Sean Larson of Addicted to Quack to fill us in.
1. Arizona will be looking to extend their home win streak to 50 against Oregon on Thursday night. Who should Arizona fans know about that will need to step up for Oregon to end the streak?
Larson: First off, jeez, has it really been 50 games since you guys lost at home? That's astonishing. If the Ducks hope to snap that streak, Tyler Dorsey needs to up his scoring. In his last four games, Dorsey has averaged just over nine points a game. He's been a huge key to Oregon's success this year and they need him on his A-game.
Defensively, Oregon needs Chris Boucher to step up and crash the boards. Boucher, at 6'10'', leads the Ducks with almost 8 rebounds per game. When he's on, he can really limit second-chance scoring opportunities and that could be a key factor for the Ducks.
2. Both national polls have Arizona and Oregon as the best two teams in the Pac-12 and, really, the west, in general. Do you agree and are these the two teams from out west that everyone should take notice of come tournament time?
Larson: The Pac-12 is a total toss-up this year. There has been talks of the conference getting as many as seven to nine bids this season due to how strong it is top to bottom. Half of the conference is within one game of first place currently, including Arizona. Last season, Oregon and Arizona met in the Pac-12 tournament championship and I think that could very likely happen again. At this point though, the conference is still a total toss-up.
3. What's your prediction for the game and do you think this, the only regular season matchup between the two, will be a huge deciding factor in who wins the Pac-12 regular season championship?
Larson: Arizona has dominated Oregon at home. The 90-56 defeat last year was probably the flattest I've seen Oregon play all season. I think it's going to be a much closer game, but I don't see Oregon snapping their losing streak at McKale. I'm giving Arizona the edge in this one. That being said, I don't think this game will have any implication on the Pac-12 race. Like I said earlier, there is so much depth top to bottom in the Pac-12, and anyone can beat anyone on any given night. I think winning the lottery would be easier than predicting who is going to come out on top of the Pac-12 in March.
Big thanks to Sean Larson for taking time out to talk to us. Check out Addicted to Quack for all things University of Oregon.