GAME PREDICTION - CALIFORNIA AT OREGONToday we will watch a game that should remind us of exactly what we're missing with DeVon Hardin out of action. But wait, you say, Oregon's only got one legitimate post player. This isn't Washington, after all - and Cal beat the Huskies!
It's true that outside of Maarty Leunen, the Ducks don't have a reliable inside presence. But the Ducks boast great guard play - Aaron Brooks is finally playing up to his potential in this, his fourth year at Eugene. He averages 18.2 ppg and 4.6 apg and has become the money player for Oregon at the end of games. Freshman Tajuan Porter plays alongside Brooks and contributes 12.9 ppg. Malik Hairston plays a wing and is an explosive slasher to the basket. All three guys are adept at breaking down a defense on dribble-drive, and it's unlikely that Cal can stop penetration consistently. And without Hardin, Cal has little recourse once the Duck guards do get into the paint. DeVon would ordinarily be the great equalizer in a game like this, altering shots and creating chaos in the middle.
OK, should Cal zone the Ducks? Maybe, but their five starters shoot 38% or better from three and their sixth man, Chamberlain Oguchi, shot 36% last year (he's struggling a bit thus far in 07). Oh, and we forgot Bryce Taylor, another scorer with range (averaging 16 ppg) who's playing very well after a disappointing sophomore season.
Cal will play a deliberate pace to keep the score down, but even then it's hard to see how the Bears can stop Oregon's offense often enough to notch the upset. Oh, and to add to our worries Oregon has become a good defensive team, ranking 34th in the nation in defensive efficiency (Cal is 77th). You can see where we're going with this; the bright spot is that Cal's won two of the last three games where we picked against them. Let's hope they can make it three of four today.