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College Basketball Weekend Preview by Max
Conference basketball is well underway and teams will be visiting each other for the second time this season. This is where good handicappers like Doc's Sports make their money. Teams that are looking toward the postseason are wondering what they have to do during the second half in order to solidify their NCAA Tournament bid. For the most part, every team outside the top 10 has work to be done.
Most teams go by the following criteria: winning your conference home games and trying to go .500 or the road. We have already seen numerous upsets where top 10 teams go on the road and, when they return home, they find themselves with a puzzling loss. Therefore, any conference road win is a quality win regardless of the score or the team you were playing. The following will preview an upcoming Pac-10 match-up between two comparable teams.
Arizona State will travel to Eugene to play the Ducks Saturday night. Both teams have .500 conference records and both still have visions of a seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona State basketball was riding high until last weekend when the Los Angeles-area schools came into Tempe. State had just completed a sweep of the Bay Area for the first time since 1985 and appeared to have two easy victories to bump their record up to 4-1. However, traveling up the coast this week, they will enter with a 2-3 record after being swept by the LA schools.
Oregon traveled into the Northwest last weekend and came away with a respectable split despite being underdogs in both contests. After being pounded by the Huskies on Thursday night, the Ducks bounced back and beat Wazzou by three points on Saturday. They have a 3-2 conference record and an overall record of 11-3, with their lone non-conference loss coming against Illinois. This team cannot afford a 0-2 showing this weekend against the Arizona schools.
For the Sun Devils, the game will come down to their role players stepping up and making plays, thus taking the pressure of standout PF Ike Diogu. Diogu has nearly locked up player of the year honors in the conference and is averaging 22.3 points per game to go along with 10.0 rebounds. He is shooting nearly sixty percent and no one player in the conference can guard him straight-up. But removing him from the equation, the Sun Devils shooting percentage drops dramatically. Steve Moore is averaging 12.6 points but is shooting just forty percent. Both SC and UCLA let Diogu score his points but made sure the other players did not score much and because of that ASU suffered two surprising losses. This appears to be the blueprint for how to beat this team.
The Ducks have run out of Lukes on their team and because of that have shifted their style of play. Freshman Malik Hairston has proved an instant spark to the team by averaging 12 points and 3 assists per game. This is the highest rated recruit for Coach Ernie Kent, and he has fit right in with Aaron Brooks, Mitch Platt, and Ian Crosswhite. This team has talent, but I wonder who their go-to-guy will be in tight games since the Lukes have left them for the NBA.
This game will come down to which team's role players step-up and take the pressure off of the stars. Diogu is by far the best player on the court and will get his points and shut down the opposition at the same time. Oregon will need solid play from their guards and their big men need to make Ike work on defense. I believe if the Ducks can reach 70 points, they will win this game. If the Devils can keep it in the sixties, it favors them.
Be sure to check back Saturday for the winner in this late night match-up on ESPN Fullcourt. We are 2-0, this season on weekend preview winners and will get another one via the number on Saturday.