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Ben Ball [Big] Game Day Roundup

There is more than a Pac-10 regular season championship that is at stake tonight. Dohn lays out why tonight’s game is the most crucial home game of this season yet:

Think it's crazy to wonder about NCAA seeds with half of the Pac-10 schedule remaining?

Well, a loss by the Bruins (18-2, 7-2 Pac-10) would make it so Oregon (19-2, 7-2) would have to stumble mightily down the stretch not to finish ahead of UCLA. The first tie-breaker when it comes to determining the Pac 10's winner is head-to-head play.

Because of what transpired last month at McArthur Court, another Oregon win would mean UCLA, if it lost this time, would have to finish ahead of the Ducks to win the conference. In essence, Oregon's one-game lead would be a two-game lead.

UCLA still must travel to Arizona, Washington and upstart Washington State. Oregon already has played at those schools (winning twice), and will play host to all three in the next four weeks. […]

Even if the Bruins were to win the Pac-10 Tournament title, history suggests the NCAA selection committee puts a much heavier weight on the regular season, and thus, will reward the regular-season champion.

And, finally, the Pac-10's top seed in the NCAAs is likely to remain in the West, while the other seeds likely will be shifted around the country. Last March the Bruins were a No. 2 seed and played essentially four home games - two in San Diego, two in Oakland - en route to a Final Four berth.
Obviously Bruins cannot look that far ahead yet. However, they do realize right now even though they are tied with Oregon atop the Pac-10, the Ducks have the edge because of their win at McArthur last month. Shipp is thinking about it, as well as his team-mate Arron who is focusing on how to stop contain Oregon’s main weapon:
"They beat us," Shipp said. "They are in first. They have the edge. We need to get that edge back."

For Bruins guard Arron Afflalo, the team's defensive stopper, that edge begins in the film room, where he studies the player he will be assigned to shut down, or at least slow down, with the kind of intensity brought to final exams.

While Afflalo acknowledged he has found it difficult to put the Stanford game in his rear-view mirror — UCLA blew a 17-point lead — he has finally swapped the tape of that game, a tape he watched at least five times, for fresh tape on Aaron Brooks.

But the picture in Afflalo's mind of Brooks is all the motivation he needs: the 6-foot, 165-pound senior guard dribbling through the Bruins to make an open 12-footer with 13.4 seconds remaining in their first meeting, giving Oregon the 68-66 lead that would hold up as the final score.

"[The Ducks] are so spread out," Afflalo said, "and they set so many screens that it is tough to guard Brooks. But we will make him priority No. 1 from the get-go."
More from the OC Register on the challenge AA’s facing tonight:
"I'm going to make that priority No.1 from the get-go," he said.

He relishes the challenge, drawing the assignment on an opponent's best guard.

"He's very competitive. He's feisty and he's got that killer instinct," Afflalo said. "He's going to keep going at you all game. There's no relaxation in his game right now at this point in his life and at this point in his career. "

Brooks is leading the Pac-10 at 19.1 points per game and in conference games he has averaged 22.3. He is first in three-point field goal percentage (55.6), three-point field goals (3.13 per game), minutes (39 per game) and is fifth in assists (4.25 per game).
The thing is AA and co. will also have to keep in mind that the Ducks are lot more than just a one man team. Besides Brooks rest of their starters are averaging double figures per game [Bryce Taylor (15.8) and Malik Hairston (13.0), center Maarty Leunen (11.3) and guard Tajuan Porter (13.1]. So it’s not just AA who will have to step up defensively and get themselves in that lockdown frame of mind. And, they will need to be lot more focused offensively, making smart decisions during transition, and also handle the ball much better when our guards are trying to feed the post.

This should be a great game tonight. I am concerned about Oregon. Then again I was also concerned and weary about Memphis last year with the early season loss against that team fresh in mind. Bruins beat them second time around by playing their trademark hard nosed defense. They can do the same tonight. Oh as mentioned throughout the week a little help from the alumni section of Pauley is not going to hurt. Stand up guys.