Oregon guard Dominic Artis is questionable for today's game. If he sits, the Ducks will turn to Jonathan Lloyd to run their team. - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cal starts off its final Pac-12 roadtrip of the season with the Oregon Ducks. Last time around, Cal took down the 10th-ranked Ducks in a game that went down to the final seconds at Haas Pavilion. A win in Eugene would be huge for the Bears, strengthening their NCAA tournament hopes and push them more firmly off the bubble. A loss, and Cal is looking at beating a dangerous Colorado squad for its final chance at a Top-50 RPI win (Pac-12 tournament excluded). To learn more about the Ducks, we turn to Addicted to Quack - SBNation's Oregon Ducks site. Thanks to the Quack team for their answers, and as always, Go Bears!
1. Any major changes to the team since the last time Cal and Oregon met on February 2nd?
The consensus seems to be that Dominic Artis will play in this game, though we won't know for sure until game time. Oregon has also learned how to not turn the ball over 20+ times every outing without them, which is why they have been back to winning lately.
2. When is PG Dominic Artis expected to be back? Has Oregon adopted to playing without Artis (missing 7 straight games now, including the last Cal-Oregon game) by winning the last three (after 1-3 in the first 4 Artis-less games) or is that just due to the toughness of the opponents?
Oregon finally has seemed to adapt to playing without Artis, and turnovers are way down to manageable levels the last few games. Oregon cannot be the same team without him as Johnathan Loyd simply has no offensive skillset whatsoever and teams don't have to respect his outside game. Artis should be back on Thursday, though there is an adjustment period that comes with that as well.
4. With 3 of the last 5 games at home, but a trip to the mountains (Utah and Colorado) and an one game lead, do you expect the Ducks to hold on to the regular season title? What record do they need have in the remaining 5 games.
I think 3-2 (a loss this weekend, and a loss at Colorado) is the most plausible scenario, and that forces somebody else to win out in order to beat them out. 4-1 would guarantee Oregon the conference championship.
5. Looking ahead to the tournament, what seed do you think the Ducks can get in the best scenario? How about in the most realistic scenario?
Well, the best case scenario would be for Oregon to win out, then win the conference tournament. That would put them at 29-5, and 2-3 seed territory. The most plausible scenario is somewhere around where they are now, which is in the 4-6 range.
6. The Ducks are 15-1 at home, but that one loss was just two weeks ago to Colorado (after the road loss to Cal). How is the home court situation for the Ducks? Has the fans finally caught on and get behind this team?
History tends to show that big attendance increases happen the year after a team starts winning. Attendance has been around 9K per game this season, which was a near sellout at Mac Court, but not at the new building which holds 12,500. I'd expect Saturday against Furd to be a sellout. Thursday is tougher because the majority of the fanbase is in Portland, an hour and a half drive away.
Roboduck (via dannykf). Never forget.
7. What is your prediction for this game?
Dana Altman has never beaten Cal. The Bears are playing well. But I'm not picking against the Ducks. They know they need this game. I'll go with the homer pick here.
8. Who is the #1 player on offense for the Ducks?
You could obviously argue that Artis is the most important player, but he Ducks don't have a take the game over kind of guy. Damyean Dotson and E.J. Singler are both capable of big games, but this team has four players averaging in double-digits, but none over 11 ppg.
9. Who is the #1 player on defense for the Ducks?
Arsalan Kazemi is still the guy who makes the Oregon defense go. He's looked tired at times lately, and his energy will be a key to the Oregon defense.
10. What does Oregon need to do to win this game?
Oregon needs to not turn the ball over, rebound the way they were rebounding early in the season, and and control the paint, three things they didn't do in the first meeting. Crabbe is going to get his. Cobbs may as well. But if you neutralize the other players on the court, its still tough for them to beat you alone.
11. What does Cal need to do to beat Oregon?
Force turnovers and get big contributions from their inside players. If guys like Kravish, Wallace, and Solomon have big games, its bad news for Oregon.
12; Also: What is Tony Woods's status for this game?
Woods' flagrant 2 was downgraded to a flagrant 1, so he is eligible to play in the game, and all indications are that he will do so.