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Quick Takes: Oregon finding its Mojo

Dave2015In early November, we contemplated when Dillon Brooks would return and how good the Oregon Ducks might be without him.  He returned in Maui, during a loss to Georgetown.  Since then, the Ducks have won 11 straight, including a home sweep of UCLA and USC, both of whom arrived in Eugene without a loss.  It appears that Oregon is finding its Mojo at the perfect time.  If they can navigate a trip through Washington next week, the Ducks could be 7-0 in the Pac-12 heading into road trips to Utah and Colorado.  With Brooks back, Oregon’s position as a protected seed in March looks pretty safe.

Arizona is also hot, winning 10 of 12, with those two losses being to Butler and Gonzaga. And it’s worth noting the Wildcats are doing it without Allonzo Trier, arguably their most talented player.  We still don’t know if, or when, he’ll return.  Final note on the Pac-12 … it’s looking like a four-bid league right now.  The question is whether a team like California or Colorado (or someone else) can join the conversation.

Other Quick Takes 

  • Kansas continues to find ways to win Big 12 games.  The Jayhawks fought off a sluggish start to beat a solid TCU outfit in Fort Worth.
  • Yes, Oklahoma is down (a little more than expected), but Baylor was mighty impressive while routing the Sooners in Norman.
  • Speaking of quality road wins, West Virginia manhandled Oklahoma State in its own building.  And lest we forget, those same Mountaineers beat Virginia in Charlottesville.
  • On a final Big 12 note, Iowa State needed a little Hilton magic to escape Texas Tech.  I’m undecided on that outcome as Tech came in on the strength of an NC SOS ranked No. 304, with its best wins being Houston Baptist and Nicholls.
  • South Carolina lost at Memphis without suspended guard Sindarious Thornwell; its their third loss (all three on the season) without him on the court.  Suspensions are not viewed the same as injuries by the Selection Committee (although individual opinions my vary by Committee member).  How that affects the Gamecocks’ resume remains to be seen.  They’re clearly not the same without him.
  • UMass absorbed a tough home loss to St. Bonaventure.  It could be tough for the A10 to get more than three teams in this year’s tournament – and Rhode Island needs to pick up its pace.
  • Keep an eye on Tennessee in the SEC. Coach Rick Barnes has the Vols trending upward.  A brutal schedule to open the season put UT in a tough spot, but the Vols opened SEC play with a road win at Texas AM.  Other than the opening home loss to Chattanooga, UT’s other debits are to Wisconsin, Oregon, North Carolina, and Gonzaga.  The two-point loss at North Carolina was particularly noteworthy.  We’ll know more by mid-January.

Enjoy a superb weekend of college hoops.  Best wishes for a safe and healthy New Year’s Eve!

 

 

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