One foul. One point. One loss. The Oregon Ducks were downed 72-71 the last time they faced the Colorado Buffaloes, and their heartbreaking loss at Boulder to Tad Boyle’s squad is something that this team would love to avenge. Pure vengeance is nothing when compared to the huge ramifications of this game, because a win here will boost the stock of the winning team and can put them into a position to obtain an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
That is certainly a monumental goal for both schools, but the fact is that Colorado is not at Oregon’s level right now. They are tough at home, but this team is significantly worse on the road. Both teams are 11-5 and place fourth in the conference, and a loss for the Ducks would severely punish them. CU still has a chance to make the tourney, but a Pac-12 tournament victory is probably their only legitimate shot. For the Oregon Ducks, a loss at 7:30 PM PT tonight would be disastrous and put an enormous amount of pressure on this team to succeed in the conference tournament. This game is as pivotal as it gets for the Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks are the favorite at the Matt Court, but the Buffs stingy defense will undoubtedly have their say in this one. Leading the way is lock down star Andre Roberson who is easily the best defensive player in the conference and among the best in the nation. He has been worth nearly four wins this season on defense alone, and his stifling .829 oPPP is enough to scare some top players away. Roberson blocks 7.3% of the shots against him and has a 24.6 PER this season. He has been worth about five wins this season and is the best player in this game.
However, the Oregon Ducks have the three next best players who will be playing in this game. Devoe Joseph is a star who can put up points and has a sweet shot (44.3 3PT%). Garrett Sim is even more accurate and possesses a nasty 64.7 TS% and is one of the best offensive weapons in the conference, due to his ability to connect on nearly every available shooting attempt. The last of the three, E.J. Singler, is second to only Joseph. He is the unquestioned leader of this team and is the heart and soul of Dana Altman’s tournament-hungry bunch. Singler has a 19.7 PER and is a better passer than people give him credit for. He is the team’s leading rebounder, although Olu Ashaolu is more efficient on the boards, and plays better defense than Joseph and Sim.
Colorado have two 18 PER, three win players of their own in Spencer DinWiddie and Austin Dufault. They both play solid defense, with DinWiddie holding the .006 advantage in oPPP, and both of them are also efficient offensive players. DinWiddie and Dufault, imagine that as a law firm, shoot over 35% from beyond the arc and neither of them turn the ball over often.
This game comes down to Oregon’s best three players ability to beat a tough defense, and Colorado will have to step things up defensively on the road in Eugene. The Oregon Ducks are the better basketball team and have a decisive home court advantage that will notch them a 70-66 victory. Both coaches have done commendable jobs this season, and this game could also decide whether Dana Altman or Tad Boyle will receive Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors.
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