We came up short last night when we backed the Oregon Ducks as small favorites in the quarterfinals of the 2K Classic from Madison Square Garden. I liked Oregon’s size and athleticism and didn’t think they would have trouble scoring on what, on paper, was a weak Iowa Hawkeye defense. So, I laid the four points and expected Oregon to roll.
Well, that just didn’t happen. The Hawkeyes played a very effective zone against Oregon and held the Ducks to just 69 points on 37% shooting from the field. Pritchard for Oregon, who I expected to dominate, missed open shots all night and finished 1-9 shooting. In the end, this was a win by the Iowa defense, a unit that was one of the worst in the country last season. What a difference a year can make.
What can you do, I mentioned in my pick yesterday that college basketball, especially early in the season, can throw you some curve balls and we took a big swing and a miss at this one. For today’s pick, I will stay right here with Oregon as they play Syracuse in the consolation game of the 2K Classic from New York City.
The Syracuse Orange will clash with the Oregon Ducks today in the consolation game of the 2K Classic, a matchup that just about everybody saw happening in the finals, not the third-place game. Syracuse came up short last night against an unranked UCONN team 83-76. The Orange played their patented zone defense, but the Huskies managed to shoot right through it as they ended the day 12/21 from the land of three.
For Oregon, they had a similar look against Iowa as the Hawkeyes experimented with a 2-3 zone and they just could not connect at a high enough rate, and they came up short as well. For today’s consolation game the Orange are -1-point favorites. The game total over-under 138.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 PM PST from Madison Square Garden.
The Oregon Ducks got manhandled last night. Oregon showed their inexperience and that even though they have the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class, they still have a lot of work to do if they are going to beat a veteran team. Coming into this season most expected the Ducks to be an elite scoring and shooting team. But last night they got plenty of decent looks against the Hawkeye zone, and just couldn’t connect.
The question today will be, can the Ducks shoot better against what should be a significantly tougher zone to beat against Syracuse. Maybe last night was an off shooting night, or maybe the Hawkeyes laid out a blueprint to beat this very talented team? We should get a lot of those questions answered today from MSG.
Syracuse didn’t play at that bad last night against UCONN. Jalen Carey looked decent as he scored 26 points and snatched seven rebounds. But his issue was that he didn’t have a single assist and turned the ball over six times. You just aren’t going to win many games when your main ball handler has an assist to turnover ratio of 0-6. The Orange also got dominated on the glass, especially the offensive side where they gave up 13 offensive rebounds. The Orange will have to do better tonight if they want to salvage one game of this tournament.
Both of these teams really disappointed yesterday. Syracuse loves playing at MSG, and some people have them as a dark horse candidate to compete to win the ACC this year. And they were just too sloppy last night and lost a game they probably should have won. As for Oregon, the Ducks just got outplayed physically. Bol Bol had a great first ten minutes and then absolutely disappeared, and Pritchard could do nothing all night.
Which of these teams is going to be able to get their act together today and win the game and stay in the top twenty-five? This early in the season an 0-2 week is enough to drop you from the rankings and whoever losses tonight will likely see themselves fall outside the top twenty-five.
I am going to give the slight edge to Syracuse in this one. We saw how the Ducks reacted to the zone last night and that was against a team that has historically not run a zone defense. Syracuse has been running this zone for thirty years, and I expect them to really disrupt the Ducks today. I think this Oregon team will be better the rest of the season, especially when they get Louis King back on the court. But tonight, I think the Orange are the side to back. Give me the Syracuse Orangemen tonight laying -1-point from MSG!