Better Coaching Makes Oregon Our NCAA Basketball Pick vs. Arizona

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, January 28, 2016 4:16 PM GMT

The Oregon Ducks travel to Tucson to face the Arizona Wildcats on the toughest home court of all PAC 12 venues, let's reviews the NCAA basketball odds first to come up with our pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Oregon +7.5
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek

 

Oregon vs. Arizona 9:00PM ET
Arizona lost a tremendous amount of talent in the last two years to the NBA.  Yet, 5th year HC Sean Miller continues to churn out Top 10 teams, each and every season.  Last year, they made it to the Elite 8 with a 34-4 SU season, including a 16-2 record in the regular season of PAC 12 action. This year, the Cats have struggled to replace some of that lost talent with only 1 returning starter. They played 7 games without their best big man, Tarczewski, and in mid-January lost their 2nd leading scorer, Trier. The Wildcats responded to that loss by whipping Washington and Washington St. by margins of 32 and 24 points on this court, before going to the Bay Area where they beat Stanford by 14 but had their bubble burst on Saturday with a 74-73 loss to California. Along with road losses to UCLA and USC, the question becomes can the Wildcats, who have won 49 straight games at  home by an average of over 22 PPG, use the strength of the McKale Center and a schedule that sees them playing 7 of their last 11 at home to capture the PAC 12 crown once again?  

The league’s 10 best teams entering conference play this week are 26-8 SU at home. There is little doubt it will be a major challenge for Oregon to overcome the aura of the Arizona program and the strength that is the McKale Center. The Ducks were unable to prevail in 3 meetings last year against the Wildcats with 3 losses, including a CTKO (Conference Tourney Knockout). Oregon is clearly hungry for success in this game, despite leading the league at this juncture. Oregon HC Altman, who has succeeded in road games as head coach at Kansas St., Creighton and now Oregon, is one of the most outstanding underdog coaches in college sports. His teams are 44-28 ATS as underdog, including 2-0 ATS this year with a cover at Boise and an outright win at Utah.  In winning 3 of their last 4 games, Oregon has averaged 85 PPG on 51% shooting, concluding 44% from behind the arc. In addition, Altman has proven to be a momentum coach in his tenure with a record of 52-25 ATS (7-2 ATS this year), if his teams covered the spread in the previous game, as the Ducks did in their (86-72) win over UCLA on Saturday.

All factors are not in the Ducks’ favor, including the fact they figure to get beaten on the boards in this game and will be facing a hungry Arizona team on a strong home court.  But, Altman’s positive coaching personality profile, along with this generous impost, allows us to put the NCAA basketball odds in our favor with Oregon as berd. Please join me in my NCAA basketball pick on the Oregon Ducks tonight.