After picking up an opening-round win, Washington State now faces the Oregon Ducks this evening in the quarterfinal round. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be targeting for my play in this one.
Washington State caught fire at the ideal time in the season, as they have gone 8-2 over their last ten games, as last night’s win over Cal marked their seventh straight win. The Cougars have been impressive on both ends of the floor over this recent stretch and have proven to be a well-balanced team. Their well-roundedness is made clear when you see that they rank 60th in offensive efficiency and 58th in defensive efficiency on KenPom.
The Cougars' ability to attack the transfer portal in the offseason proved to be huge for them, especially in the shooting department. Entering tonight, Washington State ranks 46th in three-point percentage and 34th in three-pointers made per game. Two of those transfer additions, JT Powell and Jabe Mullins, are both shooting over 40.9% from deep this season.
These two teams met twice this season as they split the series, with Washington State winning the most recent matchup on February 19th by a final score of 68-65. The Cougars scored 41 second-half points to come away with that win, even though they were outrebounded and Oregon managed to shoot it better in the game.
After that loss to the Cougars, the Ducks managed to win their last three games of the season. Those three wins gave them a 6-4 record over their last ten regular season games and brought their ranking on KenPom up to 41st in the country. A big reason for that ranking is their 29th-ranked offensive efficiency rating. Behind N’Faly Dante, the Ducks have been a difficult team to stop in the paint, and they will continue to be since Dante is averaging 14 PPG and 9.4 rebounds per game over his last ten games.
Oregon can currently be found as -2.5 point favorites, and I’ll be backing them as my play for the game. The Ducks have won the Pac-12 Tournament three times under Dana Altman, and even though they’ve had an up-and-down regular season, I trust him in postseason play.
Washington State relies heavily on their shooting ability to win games, and Oregon held opponents to a 41.7% shooting percentage this season which is ranked 53rd in the country. Additionally, the Ducks have the ability to limit Cougars big men DJ Rodman and Mouhamed Gueye when it comes to both scoring and rebounding, as Oregon ranks 33rd in opponent two-point percentage and 29th in opponent defensive rebounds per game.
In their two meetings this season, the Ducks have outrebounded the Cougars and managed a better shooting percentage in each contest. In what could be another close game, that rebounding advantage could make the difference, so I think the Ducks are the play to make here.
Oregon Ducks (-2.5)