Red-hot ducks host Arizona basketball
College basketball fans are often puzzled by Oregon’s unique court, but the Ducks themselves have been just as much of an enigma this season.
On Saturday, No. 3 Arizona men’s basketball (28-2, 15-2 Pac-12 Conference) faces UO in Eugene, Ore., to close out the regular season at 2 p.m. MST on CBS.
The Ducks (21-8, 9-8) have won six games in a row, but that comes after a five-game losing streak in January. Oregon almost beat Arizona in Tucson, but after losing at ASU last month, it dropped to 3-8 in the Pac-12.
The Ducks’ win streak, especially their 85-78 win over fellow borderline team ASU on Tuesday, looks to have them on the right side of the bubble, but a win over Arizona could clinch them a spot in the Field of 68.
In their latest bracket projections, CBS Sports has the Ducks as a nine seed in the NCAA tournament and ESPN and USA Today have Oregon as a 10th seed. Arizona’s a No. 1 seed in all of those projections.
With only the Pac-12 tournament left until the Big Dance, the Wildcats are expected to lock up a No. 1 seed with a win over the Ducks, if they haven’t already.
The Ducks are 15-3 at home. Last season in Eugene, the Ducks snapped Arizona’s 14-game win streak to open the season.
Arizona is 0-1 all-time in Matthew Knight Arena and 3-2 in its last five games at UO.
Something’s gotta give:
Oregon is No. 1 in the Pac-12 in offense with 82.9 points per game (Arizona is eighth with 74.1) and the UA is first in defense, allowing only 58.5 (UO is ninth with 74.3).
The 2014 Wildcats could become the first UA squad to lead the conference in scoring defense since Arizona joined the league in 1978. The mark of 58.5 is the Wildcats’ best since holding foes to 55.3 points per game in 1950-51.
The 2014 statistics and their Pac-12 rankings are through the March 5 games.
Who to watch:
– 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
“Mighty Joe Young” is fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring, with 18.6 per game. That is 0.1 points behind the two players tied for second and 2.2 points behind first place, Roberto Nelson of Oregon State.
Young, who had 14 points, led the Ducks in scoring in the Tucson game despite missing time due to an injury.
Oregon’s unique court is a tribute to its national champion team, the “Tall Firs,” which won it all in 1939. It is meant to evoke “Oregon’s beautiful environment” according to matthewknightarena.com.
Opponents facing Oregon on its home court will find themselves “Deep in the Woods,” the site continues, but the gym, which opened in 2011, has more than 200 TVs.
—Follow James Kelley @jameskelley520