Oregon-Cal Preview, Prediction

By Nick T.
Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Oregon will play host to its Pac-12 rival California on Thursday night in a matchup sure to draw plenty of intrigue.

The Ducks (21-5, 10-3) are favored by 5.5 points while the total stands at 138. The team has played well in recent efforts, tallying a three-game winning streak in the midst of a terrific 20-win season. It’s last victory came in an overtime win over Washington State on Saturday, that gave them a two-game cushion in the Pac-12 standings. But recent trouble with Utah and a loss to Colorado has caused some concern.

Oregon is not powered by just one player. In fact, the team is buoyed by a core group of players who average just around 11 to 12 points per game. E.J. Singler is their best bet as their go-to guy in clutch situations. He is leading the team with 11.8 points per game, while tallying 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Add in forward Arsalan Kazemi (8.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg and 2.1 spg) and the Ducks have an interior presence that can battle with even the best of talent.

Collectively speaking, the team is hitting 45 percent from the field, but only averages a mere 32 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (which ranks at the bottom of the division). Fortunately, they make up for in with their defense and rebounding, leading the Pac-12 in both steals (225) and boards (+7.8).

Meanwhile, the Bears (16-9, 8-5) have played well in the mid-season stretch. Allen Crabbe has been a big reason why, leading the team with a staggering 19.8 points per contest. However, his game has been overshadowed this past week by the recent events that transpired between him and coach Mike Montgomery, who shoved the guard in the team’s 76-68 win over over USC on Sunday.

Cal may have the slight advantage over Oregon. The Bears knocked off the frontrunners in their first meeting of the season in a 58-54 victory on Feb. 2 in Berkeley, California. They’ve also posted a +3-point margin in points scored over their opponents this year. Top that with a 7-2 ATS in the last nine games of the series (which dates back for four years), and Cal has the upper hand when factoring in the 5.5 spread.

Prediction: Oregon 69, Cal 66