Affiliate Disclosure This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may earn a commission.

Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews for Jan 25

The Arizona schools face the Oregon duo Thursday and Stanford takes on California on Friday

Posted on January 24, 2024


  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

This week in the Pac-12 features a handful of impactful contests amid a tight race for the Regular Season Championship.

The Arizona schools are in the Pacific Northwest to face the Oregon duo on Thursday and Stanford takes on California on Friday in what’s expected to be a heated rivalry game.

I preview all three contests here and my picks appear at the bottom.

Arizona State at OregonOregon Ducks Logo Pac-12

Thursday, January 25
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The Ducks and Sun Devils tip off the action on Thursday.

Bobby Hurley’s team is one of the better defenses in the league, coming into the matchup sixth in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense.

That may seem like middle-of-the-pack, but Arizona State is in the Top 150 nationally in the pivotal analytic and KenPom rates them as the No. 2 defense in the Conference.

Part of their high KenPom ranking is due to their ability to create turnovers.

The Sun Devils are 53rd nationally in turnovers forced per game and forced 19 against USC last weekend.

But the Ducks are one of the top teams in the nation at taking care of the ball. Dana Altman’s group leads the Pac-12 in turnovers committed per contest, pitting ASU’s defensive strength against UO’s offensive strength.

ASU guard Frankie Collins vs USC | Rick Scuteri/AP

As long as Oregon takes care of the ball, it should be in good shape.

Why?

Arizona State’s offense is inept.

The Sun Devils are second-to-last in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage, just above the incompetent UCLA offense.

Hurley’s group doesn’t shoot the ball well from three (11th in the league in three-point percentage) and is one of the worst teams in College Basketball at the free throw line (12th in the Pac-12).

ASU doesn’t share the ball, either,  ranking 10th in the Conference in assists per game. Making matters worse, they don’t rebound the ball well.

Add to that the expected return of big man Nate Bittle, and UO will be in good shape. If Oregon is even remotely efficient from three, the Ducks should win by double-digits.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 9 Arizona at Oregon State

Thursday, January 25
8:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Playing just its fifth true road game of the year, Arizona heads to Corvallis to face an Oregon State team suffering through a five-game losing streak.

To handle the Beavers, the primary keys are to slow down Jordan Pope and Tyler Bilodeau.

Keshad Johnson is an ideal matchup for the 6-foot-9 Bilodeau. Able to defend players on the perimeter and in the paint, Johnson should be able to handle the versatile wing.

As for Pope, the OSU shooting guard is similar to Colorado’s KJ Simpson. Somewhat ball-dominant and a high-volume shooter, Arizona has multiple options to throw at him.

Either Kylan Boswell or Jaden Bradley will get the initial assignment, but KJ Lewis could be brought in off the bench to frustrate the sophomore.

Tommy Lloyd’s defense features heavy switching on the perimeter, too, and his roster is bolstered by interchangeable guards that can frustrate Pope.

Arizona guard Jaden Bradley vs UCLA | Darryl Webb/AP

Pelle Larsson is an ideal option off the switch and Caleb Love is quick enough to contest shots.

The primary concern is when OSU inevitably runs screens on the perimeter. Arizona has absolutely failed to adequately defend that action and consistently gets broken down game in and game out.

Opponents either get open looks from three or dribble the ball inside the perimeter for an uncontested midrange look.

It’s a flaw in Lloyd’s base defensive scheme that competent coaches have exploited.

But Arizona is one of the top defenses in the country at forcing steals and the offensive strength is predicated on deadly runs.

If the Cats can create turnovers that lead to fast break points, the game could get out of hand by halftime.

Stanford at California

Friday, January 26
7:00 pm PT, FS1

It’s unusual for the Pac-12 to play a Friday night conference game.

But Stanford and California will be playing in the ACC next season, so any semblance of what’s “usual” can be thrown out of the window.

There probably are not many Pac-12 fans who have closely followed the Bay Area rivalry over the past few seasons, let alone the average college basketball fan.

That means few are aware of the success California has had against its archrival on the hardwood.

Despite the terrible stretches during the Mark Fox era, the Bears are 5-5 against the Cardinal since the start of the 2019-20 season, including a 2-0 mark against them in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Cal has won 3 of the last four in the series at Haas Pavilion and comes into this game with its best team in years.

Jaylon Tyson, Fardaws Aimaq, and Jalen Cone are among the best trio of players in the Pac-12.

Cal center Fardaws Aimaq vs Washington | Cal Athletics

They combine to average 50.8 points per game and each score in different ways. Cone is mostly a three-point shooter, Tyson scores at all three levels, and Aimaq is efficient in the paint.

But Stanford is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation and they share the ball at an elite level.

Jerod Haase’s team is No. 13 nationally in assists per game and No. 7 nationally in three-point percentage.

That’s a deadly combination that puts them in a position to beat any opponent on any given night.

Haase’s roster runs solid schemes on the perimeter that generate open looks. The Bears must communicate their switches effectively and rotate with intensity.

And with a variety of players that all can knock down outside shots, there can’t be any lackadaisical effort from any of the Cal defenders on the floor.

But, if the Bears win the rebounding margin and limit their turnovers, Mark Madsen’s group should be in a position to get the job done.


Dane Miller’s Game Picks

2023-24 Week 4 Pac-12 Games


Pick

Arizona State at Orgon
Jan 25, 6:00 PM PT
Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon
Arizona at Oregon State
Jan 25, 8:00 PM PT
Arizona football Pac-12Arizona
Stanford at California
Jan 26, 7:00 PM PT
California
 Overall Record 124-50-0 (71%)



—More from Dane Miller—