2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament semifinals preview: No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 5 California
When: Friday, March 9 at 6 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. MT
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Bay Area and Pac-12 Oregon
On the call: Ted Robinson, Bill Walton and Lewis Johnson
Live Stream: Pac-12.com/now and Pac-12 Now app
The 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament will roll on Friday night in Sin City, as four teams from the Conference of Champions will do battle in the semifinals. Up first is a contest between top-seed Oregon and No. 5 seed Cal, who won in contrasting styles on Thursday.
While the Ducks used a strong second half to cruise to an 80-57 win over Arizona State, Cal held off a late flurry from Utah to claim a thrilling 78-75 victory. The last time these two teams played on Feb. 22 in Berkeley, Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks provided some late fireworks to propel the Ducks.
Oregon seeks its third straight Pac-12 Tournament finals appearance and second consecutive tourney title, while Cal hasn’t played in the finals since 2010.
No. 1 seed Oregon (28-4 overall, 16-2 Pac-12)
Oregon has become one of the nation’s most exciting teams to watch over the past couple of seasons under coach Dana Altman. The Ducks feature playmakers, rim-rattlers and sharpshooters up and down their roster. They also have a combination of size and speed that’s tough for anyone to match up with.
“Moving forward, we just got to continue to play well,” Altman said following his team’s win on Thursday. “We’ve got to get everybody on the same page and got to shoot free throws a little bit better. But hopefully we’ll be ready at 6 o’ clock.”
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 10, 2017
Players to watch
Dillon Brooks, F, Junior
Height/weight: 6-7, 225
Key stats: 16.2 ppg, 2.9 apg, 52.7 FG%
Brooks showed why we he’s Pac-12 Player of the Year on Thursday, scoring a team-high 22 points while leading the Ducks’ charge in the second half. The Bears are all too familiar with Brooks’ abilities, as he nailed a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left to help the Ducks escape Berkeley with a 68-65 win on Feb. 22.
Tyler Dorsey, G, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-4, 195
Key stats: 12.7 ppg, 1.9 3pg, 3.5 rpg
The sharpshooter might have been 1-for-5 from behind the arc on Thursday but he found other ways to get to the rim, scoring 21 points for the Ducks. But Altman said he was more impressed by Dorsey’s 9 rebounds, which tied a career high. Dorsey can be an inconsistent volume shooter at times, but when he’s on Oregon is hard to stop.
No. 5 seed Cal (21-11 overall, 10-8 Pac-12)
Twenty-win seasons aren’t what they used to be. Despite surpassing the 20-win plateau with a pair of victories in Vegas, Cal still finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble. A win over Oregon would do wonders for the Bears’ chances of reaching The Big Dance.
“Of course the goal is to be an NCAA Tournament team and I think we’re that,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “But for us, it’s coming to win the Pac-12 Tournament then in the process become and NCAA Tournament Team. That’s the focus for us.”
— Cal Men's Basketball (@calmensbball) March 10, 2017
Players to watch
Jabari Bird, G, Senior
Height/weight: 6-6, 198
Key stats: 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.5 3pg
There were high expectations for Bird entering his senior year, and he’s shouldered them season long. On Thursday, he scored 26 points and hit some big 3-pointers in the second half for the Bears. Bird has found room to move in the two contests against the Ducks this season, averaging 20.5 points per game, going a combined 9-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Charlie Moore, G, Freshman
Height/weight: 5-11, 170
Key stats: 12.5 ppg, 3.6 apg
Moore was a sensation on Thursday with the way he was able to slice between defenders and convert layups amongst the trees. He may be diminutive, but Moore doesn’t shrink from the spotlight.