NCAA Basketball Pick: Oregon vs. Washington State

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, January 26, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Two struggling teams meet up in Pac-12 play when the Oregon Ducks, who have lost five straight games, visit Washington State, losers of six of seven, on Sunday.

A seemingly ugly Pac-12 matchup may actually be offering nice value Sunday night when the Oregon Ducks (13-5, 2-3 away) pay a visit to the Washington State Cougars (8-11, 6-4 home) at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum in Pullman, WA at 7:00 ET in a game available on Pac-12 Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Washington State as a decided home underdog for this contest with the current line at +6 with odds of -103.

Oregon was off to a 13-0 start this season, but the Ducks were taken to overtime in a 70-68 win at Utah to open up Pac-12 play and have since lost five straight games while allowing at least 80 points in each loss! In fact this team has been a mess on both ends of the court lately and simply cannot be trusted as decided road favorite over anyone at this time.

And that even goes while visiting the lowest scoring team in the Pac-12 as they are here, with Washington State averaging only 49.9 points inside the conference while playing without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, who will be out at least two more weeks following an appendectomy. However, the Cougars did shoot the ball much better in their most recent loss vs. Oregon State so they may be able to exploit the weak Oregon defense.

The Ducks were flying high at 12-0 following the non-conference portion of their struggle while running up big scores vs. everyone, and that is the main reason why they currently rank 18th in offensive efficiency and 28th in effective field goal percentage at 54.2 percent. However, it has been a totally different story since Pac-12 play began with Oregon ranking ninth in the conference in effective field goal percentage at 47.1 percent.

Yes, the Ducks are still averaging 78.7 points in conference games, but that is now mainly because of their pace as they rank 18th in the country in tempo rating overall and second in tempo rating during conference play.

But the real Achilles Heel for Oregon has been the defense. The Ducks are ranked 144th nationally on defensive efficiency but they have been even worse than that in conference games, ranking 11th out of 12 Pac-12 teams in defensive efficiency and dead last in the conference in effective field goal percentage allowed at a bloated 55.1 percent.

Now it has certainly been a struggle for Washington State offensively inside the Pac-12 with Lacy hardly playing in conference play, as he tried to play in the second Pac-12 game vs. Arizona State but lasted only 11 minutes and has not played since. However, the Cougars actually showed some encouraging signs on offensive while losing to the Oregon State Beavers 66-55 on Wednesday.

D.J. Shelton has 24 points and 10 rebounds in the loss while Que Johnson added 15 points, but most importantly Washington State had its best shooting night of the conference season going 24-for-48 for 50.0 percent from the field overall including 6-for-14, 42.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc. The Cougars would have been much closer and may have even won if not for the fact that they were awarded just four free throws all game while OSU had 27 foul shots.

If Washington State comes anywhere close to that offensive effort here, the Cougars could very well be rewarded with an upset given the way Oregon is playing (or more accurately not playing) defense right now. In any event, the Cougars could stay competitive, so take the points at home on Sunday.

[gameodds]14/255995/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Washington State +6 (-103)