The Arizona Wildcats have established themselves at the top of the Pac 12 early this season, bursting out to a 14-0 record and climbing all the way up to No. 3 in the latest polls. However, a couple of shaky performances and a tough road test this week could lead to the Cats’ first loss as an Oregon Ducks team on the rise looks to play the spoiler.
Oregon has flown under the radar so far this season, but sit at a strong 12-2 after knocking off the rival Oregon State Beavers yesterday. They have an impressive victory over a very good UNLV Rebels team already and will now look to step out onto the national stage and declare themselves a legitimate Pac 12 contender with a win over Arizona on Thursday.
The Wildcats have been impressive this season, but have looked vulnerable lately. They needed a controversial call against the Colorado Buffaloes to win in overtime before getting pushed by an overmatched Utah Utes team over the weekend. Their trip to Eugene will be just their third “road” game of the year and if any undefeated club looked ripe for an upset, it’s these Cats.
The Ducks also present a matchup problem for Arizona. Oregon boasts good frontcourt size and length that could give the Wildcats fits. They have the potential to create an intimidating home court advantage as this game should be more than enough motivation for the Ducks’ faithful to turn out and turn up the volume for the visiting Pac 12 favorites.
Oregon will have plenty to contend with if they want to pull off the upset, though. It will be key for the Ducks’ guards to stop Arizona’s penetration to have a shot, but that could be easier said than done. Arizona is No. 1 in the Pac 12 in scoring margin (plus-16.7) and rank near the top of the conference in scoring defense, allowing just 60.8 points per game. They lock down on opponents and force them into low percentage shots while defending the three well and they lead the league in rebounding with 40.9 per game.
It will be a major test for the Wildcats to go into Eugene and come out with a win, but a victory could go a long way in solidifying their position at the top of the college basketball rankings. The Ducks will be ready to take them down, however, and lay their claim to the Pac 12 early. Either way, it should make for a great game.