Editor's Early Preview (12/15):
Oregon's best hope is to sneak into the Bubble, and a win over a solid Saint Mary's squad could be a major boost to their resume. The Gaels are led by Olympian Patrick Mills, but have better overall talent then you realize. A loss by the Ducks here will just push Ernie Kent a step closer to the chopping block.
Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Patrick Mills scored 37 points in St. Mary’s 99-87 win over Oregon last season, and the Ducks are not as explosive offensively after losing some top players to graduation and five freshmen now seeing playing time. However, Oregon (4-5) is getting good play and production from their guards, as diminutive Tajuan Porter leads Oregon in scoring and emerging freshman Garrett Sim has taken over at the point and played pretty poised while also hitting 44% from the arch. Freshman Michael Dunigan is a big body in the block that is scoring 12 ppg and combines with Joevan Catron to provide some rebounding strength. Oregon has played a solid early season schedule and the young Ducks now finds themselves a home underdog against a West Coast Conference (WCC) club. Consistency is always a concern with a young team, and with two freshman starting at point guard and center and five other freshman getting double-digit minutes, Oregon will have some ups and downs in their performances and level of play.
St. Mary’s (7-1) is quietly continuing their strong play from last season. The Gaels are getting nearly 20 ppg from super soph point guard Patty Mills, and backcourt partner Carlin Hughes has improved his play and production in his senior season. Saint Mary’s features a strong duo inside with center Omar Sanham (15ppg/9rpg) providing powerful play in the low post and was the WCC top offensive rebounder last season. He’s hitting 60% of his shots from the field, and joins two-time first team all-conference player Diamon Simpson, who averages a double-double for St. Mary’s.
Oregon likes to push the pace, but that will play right into St. Mary’s hands. Oregon has not been too efficient on the offensive end, and their youth is still learning to play on the defensive end as well. St. Mary’s Patty Mills prefers a quick pace as one of CBB fastest players, and the Gaels rate the better offensive and defensive team here. Tough travel and location to win on the road in Eugene at McArthur Court, but St. Mary’s has the personnel and experience to prevail.
Winner: St. Mary’s Margin 3-7 points
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.