Miller: Week 11 Saturday Men’s Hoops Previews

Today's matchups take on an even greater meaning than expected just a few days ago

Posted on February 6, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

One day can change everything.

Once considered a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament, the Oregon Ducks have dropped to the edge of the bubble thanks to injuries and postponed games. Sitting at no better than a 10-seed in most bracket projections after losing to Washington State, Dana Altman must find a way to replace Chris Duarte, who is out for an undetermined amount of time due to a lower-leg injury.

On the same night, Utah convincingly took down Arizona and moved to 83rd in the NET Rankings, just outside a Quad 1 designation. And at 4-4 in combined Quad 1 and Quad 2 matchups, there is a distinct possibility the Utes sneak into the Big Dance, if they put together a strong February.

But the entire picture can change by the end of Sunday, and the matchups today take on an even greater meaning than expected just a few days ago.

I preview this weekend’s games below and provide my picks along with Nick Bartlett’s at the bottom of the page.

Washington at Oregon

Saturday, February 6th
1:00 pm PT, CBS

On national television, the Ducks can’t afford to lose to the Huskies.

After dropping back-to-back games at Matthew Knight Arena for just the third time since the building was constructed in 2011, Oregon must overcome injuries and a lack of practice time to avoid losing three-straight in Eugene for the first time since 2014.

Projected to be without Chris Duarte, Dana Altman needs his role players to step up to replace the 17.8 points per game the senior guard from the Dominican Republic provides. Fortunately, Washington doesn’t have the personnel to effectively run Mike Hopkins’ zone defense, and the Dawgs have given up 75 points or more in 12 games this season.

UW’s Marcus Tsohonis did go off for 22 against the Beavers on Thursday night, but Altman’s press zone has given up more than 75 points just twice this year.

If Oregon can get offensive production from Amauri Hardy, it should ease the burden on Eugene Omoruyi and LJ Figueroa to put the team on their shoulders.

Washington State at Oregon State

Saturday, February 6th
3:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In a clash of two programs vying to reach the top-half of the Conference standings, the Beavs and Cougs do battle in Corvallis.

Sitting in seventh-place, Oregon State is on the precipice of breaking through. Already holding victories over Oregon and USC, Wayne Tinkle knows the implications this game carries.

The Cougars have a respectable roster with one of the best players in the country in Isaac Bonton, but a loss to WSU at Gill Coliseum would arguably halt the momentum Tinkle’s team has built over the past two weeks.

As one of the nation’s leaders in assists and turnovers committed, OSU has put it together on the strength of Jarod Lucas’ shooting and the consistency of Ethan Thompson. But Washington State is coming off a season-defining victory over Oregon, and the Cougars took Game One of the series in Pullman earlier this year.

With the potential to be decided by the last shot, it’s a shame this battle is relegated to the Pac-12 Network.

Arizona at Colorado

Saturday, February 6th
5:00 pm PT, FS1

Coming off what was arguably their worst game of the season, the Wildcats walk into the CU Events Center where they are 2-5 since the Buffs joined the Pac-12.

The Utah defense shut down James Akinjo, Terrell Brown Jr., and the Arizona wings en route to holding the Cats to their lowest point total against the Utes since 1965. But it remains to be seen if Colorado can replicate that defensive performance.

And the last time these two teams played, Sean Miller’s offense scored 88, while Akinjo has proven he isn’t likely to have back-to-back poor games.

As a counterbalance, Tad Boyle and McKinley Wright IV know they let one slip away against Utah last Saturday. Boyle’s players have likely been itching to get back on the court to show those final ten minutes were a fluke, providing plenty of motivation to come out strong.

With two programs desperate to get back on the right track, this game could come down to the final minute.


Saturday, February 6th
7:00 pm PT, ESPN

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for.

The Trojans and Bruins square off in a battle for first place on ESPN during primetime. For the East Coast observers, this is one of those great “Pac-12 After Dark” nights, with no other games competing for their eyes.

In that sense, the attention of the national media will be focused solely on Andy Enfield’s and Mick Cronin’s squads.

And with a 2-0 record against Cronin, the Trojans can remain unbeaten against the second-year coach while also making their case to be ranked come Monday.

To get there, Evan Mobley might have to put up 20 points or more while snagging double-digit rebounds.

The Bruins are a scoring machine that takes care of the ball, with five players averaging nine points or more. Slowing down UCLA’s balanced attack figures to be the primary task, and foul trouble could doom USC’s hopes.

Yet, if Tahj Eaddy scores 15 points or more, the Trojans could find themselves in the Top 25 for the first time since 2017.

California at Stanford

Sunday, February 6th
7:00 pm PT, FS1

Just as the Super Bowl reaches the middle of the fourth quarter, the Tree and Bears tipoff in Palo Alto.

Jerod Haase and Mark Fox’s players will have to wait until halftime of their rivalry matchup to see if Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes pulled out the victory, if they are allowed to look at their phones during the break.

Regardless of what happens on the gridiron, it’s never easy to beat your rival twice, especially when you play them in back-to-back games. But COVID has caused scheduling quirks that everyone must deal with, and the players on both sides of the court should be ready to go.

Cal’s Matt Bradley has regained his normal form after sustaining his second ankle injury of the season and struggling against USC in his return. In the three games since, the junior guard is averaging 23.6 points per game and shooting 21-for-42 from the field, while connecting 13 times from deep.

That’s a stat line that rivals anyone in the country, and it could be enough to upset the Cardinal if Grant Anticevich breaks out of his slump and Andre Kelly continues his dominance down low.

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