NCAA Basketball Picks: Utah vs. Oregon in Pac-12 Quarter Finals

David Lawrence

Friday, March 13, 2015 2:32 PM GMT

A grudge match of sorts awaits in a late-night semifinal on Friday in Las Vegas as the Utes are favored on the college basketball betting lines by 6.5 points as they face the Oregon Ducks.

The Utah Utes Can Win Because…
Their team came alive in the second half against Stanford in the Pac-12 quarterfinals on Thursday. Utah was down by five points at the half. The Utes outscored Stanford, 46-17, to win by a score of 80-56. Utah scored 33 of the first 43 points of the second half and never looked back. The Utes hit six of their first eight three-point shots in that half. They also attacked the offensive glass, as Delon Wright (the team’s best player) followed a missed shot by dunking it home. Utah did everything right, and that was a welcome turn of events for a team that got taken to the wire by Washington State the week before and then lost by several points at Washington this past Saturday. The Utes were not playing good basketball, but their performance in the second half against Stanford revived hopes that this team is going to be ready for March Madness and has the capability to do great things on the court.

Utah will also be motivated by revenge. The Utes lost to Oregon a few weeks ago on the road. Now that Utah gets Oregon in a neutral building, the Utes can feel as though they can prepare for this reunion and read the Ducks’ offense a little better.

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The Oregon Ducks Can Win Because…
They are in such a good grove right now. Oregon has not only won six in a row and 10 of 11. The Ducks have won their last four games away from home. They are learning how to win in difficult circumstances. Oregon was able to overcome poor three-point shooting (6 of 19) against Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday. The Ducks got to the foul line 26 times and converted 21 times. Oregon was also able to shoot well from two-point range, the product of being able to get to the rim again and again. Joseph Young, who won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award, looked like the best player in the conference against Colorado. He hit 12 of 22 shots and made three treys (plus three free throws) for a 30-point effort. Oregon’s five starters all scored at least 11 points, but that balance was made possible by Young drawing attention to himself. If Young wasn’t that good a scorer, his teammates wouldn’t get as many good shot attempts. The Ducks also committed only eight turnovers against Colorado, and if they can match that number against Utah’s defense – which is a lot tougher than Colorado’s – the Ducks will be in great shape here.

Outlook
The game feels like a close one, but Utah’s ability to play such a strong second half bodes well for their confidence and their overall prospects at this tournament. It seems to have woken them up. Take them with your NCAA basketball picks as their defense should carry them to a win and cover.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah -6.5 at The Greek