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Vanderbilt could challenge for a national title this year.
This is an intriguing matchup featuring one of the best teams in the nation and a talent young team with a bunch of new pieces that must figure out the right combination. No matter what happens in this game, both teams will be sending out some very deep rosters.
Oregon returns only a few players who made a big impact last year. One is E.J. Singler who averaged 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last year. Shooting guard Garrett Sim, who averaged 8.2 points per game last year, may start as well, but could be sent to the bench in favor or five-star recruit Jabari Brown, an elite talent.
At point guard, Oregon features Johnathan Loyd, a 5'8 sophomore who averaged 4.7 points and 2.3 assists per game, but that's until Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph is eligible in December. Forward Olu Ashaolu, a transfer from Louisiana Tech who averaged 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the WAC a year ago.
Junior college All-American Carlos Emory and Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods will compete for the other big man spot along with returnees Jeremy Jacob, who averaged 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and Tyrone Nared, who averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Vanderbilt will be without star center Festus Ezeli due to a suspension, but they are still loaded. Shooting guard John Jenkins returns after scoring 19.3 points per game last year, while small forward Jeffrey Taylor averaged 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Point guard Brad Tinsley averaged 10.6 points, 3.7 points and an SEC-leading 4.6 assists per game last year. The other starting big man, Lance Goulbourne, returns after averaging 6.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last year. He will likely be pared with Steve Tchiengang in this game.
Tchiengang averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last year. The Commodores can expect more from last year's top recruit, Rod Odom, who averaged only 3.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game a year ago.
Four-star guard recruits Kedren Johnson and Dai-Jon Parker along with 6'11 redshirt freshman Josh Henderson make up the newcomers.
While both of these teams have a boat load of talent, it's clear that Vanderbilt is head and shoulders above the rebuilding Oregon program. It's not likely that Oregon can pull off an upset, but they have enough talented players that they could keep it interesting for a while.