The Pac-12 college basketball schedule tipped off Thursday night, and the Oregon Ducks got something of a scare on the road before pulling off an overtime win to stay undefeated on the season. Keeping that perfect record intact will now require winning in a building where the Ducks have never won a conference game.
Colorado went out as 1.5 point chalk on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds, and that spread was quickly adjusted to -2 before overnight wagering sent the number all the way up to -3.5. No total has been released.
It's the sixth time the Buffs and Ducks have met since Colorado joined the Pac-12 a couple of seasons back, and the Buffaloes have won four of the five previous meetings. Tad Boyle's CU squad swept Oregon last season, both outright and against the spread, and have won three straight since knocking the Ducks out of the 2012 conference tourney. The last three matchups failed to reach the total.
High-Octane Ducks Look To Build Off OT Victory
Offense is definitely the strength of this Oregon (13-0 SU, 9-3 ATS) squad, ranking second in the country in scoring at 89.2 PPG and tied for seventh in shooting (50.3%). But it was defense that helped Dana Altman's crew to victory in the latest matchup.
Trailing Utah on the road at half, the Ducks rallied to send the contest into overtime when the Utes were setting up for a potential game winner with only seconds left. Damyean Dotson, however, altered those plans by stealing the in-bounds pass and slamming home the winner to give Oregon a 70-68 decision. It wasn't quite enough to cover the 2.5 point spread, marking the third straight ATS loser for Ducks backers.
Shooting a season-low 38.7% for the game (24-of-62), the Ducks had to rely on defense even before Dotson's steal to stay in the game. Oregon held Utah, the nation's top-ranked team in field goal percentage (52.8%), to 24-of-63 and only 3-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Joseph Young leads four Ducks averaging double-digits on the scoring in with 19.3 PPG, but the transfer from Houston was limited to only nine points while committing four turnovers vs. the Utes. Mike Moser, another transfer from UNLV, tops the squad in rebounding (7.7 rpg) while Johnathan Loyd directs the show with a team-high 6.4 assists per game and 9.2 points on average.
Buffs Look For 2nd Win Vs. Ranked Opponent
Colorado (12-2 SU, 8-5 ATS) is also coming off a victory in its conference opener after taking down Oregon State on Thursday, 64-58. Just as in the Oregon-Utah match, neither the Buffaloes nor Beavers were able to find the net with any consistency, CU converting only 38.2% of their shots while OSU sank just 37.5%. Some of it might be attributed to conference opener jitters, but Colorado hasn't been a strong offensive club all season, ranking 10th among Pac-12 teams in overall shooting (45.0%), and in the bottom quarter of the country from 3-point range (31.7%).
Sunday marks the fourth time the Buffaloes have faced a ranked opponent, losing two of the previous three. The one they did win came on this floor about a month ago when Askia Booker connected on a 3-pointer at the final buzzer to beat then-No. 6 Kansas, 75-72. Colorado closed as a 1.5-point underdog to the Jayhawks, the cover coming in the middle of a 6-game ATS win streak.
The line movement away from Oregon actually attracts me in this game, and I'm going to set my free NCAA basketball pick on the Ducks plus the points.
My pick: Oregon +3.5 at Bet365
Season: 12-7 (+4.3)