NCAA Basketball Picks: Back Utes & 'Under' In Oregon vs. Utah Tight Battle

Kevin Stott

Thursday, January 14, 2016 12:58 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 12:58 PM UTC

Let’s see what we can find out about this showdown between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes and provide two NCAA basketball picks for our Sportsbook Review readers.

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Final Score Prediction: Utah 71 - Oregon 67
NCAA Basketball Picks: Under 144½, Utah Money Line
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Odds Overview
Oregon at Utah [Friday 03:00] (PAC-12, 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST): The Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City is the site of the this big Pac-12 showdown between Oregon (13-3, 2-1 Pac-12) and Jakob Poeltl and host Utah (12-4, 1-2 Pac-12) on Thursday night in the Utes conference Home opener and a game which would be a very tough early season Home conference loss for the hosts. NCAA basketball odds boards have the Point Spread here with Utah opening favored by 4½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) with the Total (Points) set at a relatively low 144½ (Bookmaker).


Oregon Ducks
Oregon (7-6 ATS, 5-8 O/U) and Head Coach Dana Altman are relying on Defense to win games and so far, so good. In their last game, the Ducks defeated Stanford, 71-58 at Home for the Ducks 18th straight win in Eugene as Dillon Brooks registered a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyler Dorsey (12 points) and Dwayne Benjamin (12 points) were also in double-figures. In that game, Oregon’s starting 5 was F Brooks (15.2 ppg), G Dorsey, G Casey Benson (9 points, 6 assists), F Chris Boucher (9 points, 5 rebounds) and F Elgin Cook (6 points, 5 rebounds), so the ability to get a little bit from everybody and play Good D—Oregon’s 65.2 PA is the lowest PA in the Pac-12—is still serving the Ducks well after seeing PG Joseph Young head to the NBA (Indiana Pacers, 2nd Round, #43) and starting PG Dylan Ennis (Foot) injured and out for the season. Against the Cardinal, the Ducks Bench helped secure the victory as the aforementioned F Benjamin’s 12 points and F Jordan Bell’s 8 points and 10 rebounds were the difference despite star and leading-scorer Brooks’ (15.2 ppg) great performance. Oregon and Boucher (8.1 rpg) will need solid, productive performances again from these seven guys and a typical Altman-coached gritty performance to get the win in Salt Lake City, where, like the Ducks in Eugene (11-0), the Utes have yet to lose this season (8-0). Last season, Oregon (100/1 to win National Championship, Bet365) was 17-0 when it held the opposition under 70 points but the Ducks were just 9-10 when the opponents scored 70 points or more. So, as usual, Defense, and the energy expended on and intent to play it hard is the key to winning in all levels of sports.


Utah Utes
Utah (5-8-1 ATS, 9-5 O/U) and Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak made the Sweet 16 last year and knocked off (then) #7 Duke, 77-75 in OT at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. In their last game, the Utes (29-6 SU, 13-5 Pac-12 13-5 last year) needed a last-second floater from G Lorenzo Bonam to win at Colorado, 56-54, to get their first Pac-12 win as the Runnin’ Utes overcame a 9-point 2nd-Half deficit against the Buffaloes as F Kyle Kuzma (12 points) returned to the Utah starting 5 after suffering a Tailbone injury in a loss to California earlier this season. Against Colorado, and with Kuzma back, Utah started F Jakob Poeltl (6 points, 11 rebounds), F Jordan Loveridge (9 points), JC transfer Bonam (17 points) and G Brandon Taylor (7 points) and the Bench provided only 5 points (Isaiah Wright 3 points, Dakarai Tucker 2) in the low-scoring game and necessary win for the Utes as Road Wins in the Pac-12 will be a delicacy this year for most schools. The Runnin’ Utes four Losses this season have been to Miami (Florida), 90-66 at a (neutral site), at Wichita State (67-50), at Stanford (70-68) on New Year’s Day and at California (71-58) two days later in Berkeley in two tough conference games on the schedule Utah would always be hard-pressed to win (those games) this season without PG Delon Wright, drafted 20th by the Toronto Raptors in Round 1 of last Summer’s NBA Draft. Here, the Home-court advantage should be big as well as the point production from stud Poeltl (17.0 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and the Runnin’ Utes Bench. Unlike the win over Colorado at Boulder, Utah (100/1 to win National Championship, Bet365) will need both Poeltl and the Bench in double-digits here to get the victory as well as potentially the Point Spread cover as the favorite.


Recent Series Trends & Best Betting Approaches
As mentioned, these two teams met twice last year—once in Eugene in Pac-12 play and once in the Pac-12 Tournament—with Oregon winning both games, knocking off (then) #9-ranked Utah at Home in Oregon, 69-59, and the downing the (then) #17-ranked Utes, 67-64 in the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Oregon (W2) will look to make it 3 straight W’s against Utah (W1), which will have Revenge as a motive here but will be facing a team as talented as them which will know the value of an early Road win in conference play. Trend-wise, upstart Oregon (75.6 PF-65.2 PA)—lowest PA in Pac-12—is 8-3 ATS its L11 games against the Pac-12 but 5-12-2 ATS the L19 games it has played on Thursdays. Utah (80.3 PF-69.8 PA) is just 2-6 ATS its L8 against the Pac-12 while the Over is a powerful 19-6-1 ATS the L26 (76%) Utes Home games here at the Huntsman Center. But probably the biggest thing for sports gamblers to be aware of here is the fact that Utah is undefeated at Home (8-0 overall, 6-0 in lined games), and winning on the Road in this conference—like so many others in NCAAB—will be extremely difficult this season even for the top-tier schools in the league (#18 Arizona, Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, Utah).

With the Ducks 16-7 ATS their L23 overall, taking Utah (#43 in Ken Pomeroy Basketball rankings) on the Moneyline for a modest amount or using that (Utah M/L) as a parlay element seem like the only safe NCAA basketball picks in this game while expecting Oregon (#33 in Ken Pomeroy Basketball Rankings) to do what it does best—clamp down on D—and keep this game just a little bit lower-scoring than normal. And in a fight for the Road upset for the Ducks, that means the Under seems like the Totals call in a game in which the Oddsmakers see the Ducks and their Pac-1o-leading Defense having some effect on the game’s pace. The thought here is that the Homecourt is so strong and that the Utes and Krystkowiak definitely won’t want to start 1-3 in conference play and although the Over is 9-0 in Utah Home games this season, both Utah and Oregon have played 3 straight Unders—right when Pac-10 play has begun so bucking that strong Over streak at Home out of conference and backing the Under is the hesitant lean in a game which should be fun and close throughout.

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