Oregon Ducks (16--6, 7-3) at Colorado Buffaloes (15-7, 7-3)
6:00 PT :: Coors Events Center :: Boulder, Colorado
TV :: Root Sports Northwest/Rocky Mountain
Pomeroy Rankings :: UO (109) :: CU (76)
Pomeroy Prediction :: CU 72-66
Oregon makes their first ever trip to Boulder for a conference game, and due to 17' of snow on the ground, almost didn't make it there. Oregon and Colorado both currently sit in the jumbled mess that is second place in the Pac-12 standings, where they are in a three way tie with California, all a game behind Washington. After dropping the Civil War at home last weekend, this is a game the Ducks must win in order to keep that small hope for a conference title alive. Unfortunately, in addition to Colorado being pretty good (by Pac-12 standards, anyway), Boulder is also a very difficult place to win, owing not just to the fanbase, but the thin Colorado air as well. Tad Boyle is an outstanding coach, the guy Matt Daddy wanted Oregon to hire when they hired Altman, and is doing a great job in Boulder.
Like Oregon State, Colorado is a difficult matchup for the Ducks because of their guard play. Oregon has struggled with good guards all season, and its not uncommon for Colorado to go to four guard sets. Andre Roberson is their rock down low, and don't let his 6'7" frame fool you. Roberson is an absolute load down low. He averages 11 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks a game. He makes up for most of their defensive inefficiencies by protecting the lane. And offensively, he is a nice post up player who is also not afraid to take it outside and drain the three. Austin Dufault is another capable post who at 6'9" also chips in 11 a game. 6'11" Shane Harris-Tunks will also see time, but he is much more raw an non-impactful than Roberson or Dufault.
Of the guards, senior Carlon Brown is their primary offensive player who can score in multiple ways, but also look out for freshman Spencer Dinwidde, who also goes for double digits, and probably would have been a Duck had Oregon offered at the two instead of the point (they thought some guy named Brown was going to play the two. Sigh.). Brown and Dinwiddie are also excellent rebounders for guards as well. Askia Booker and Nate Tomlinson round out the four guard rotation. All of them can shoot the three, all of them can take it to the hole, and all of them rebound, makng Colorado an especially tough matchup. I'd expect that we'll see zone most of the game to try and prevent the dribble penetration, but the Ducks will have to get out on shooters and rebound well. Its pick your poision with these guys.
FOUR FACTORS PREVIEW
eFG%: Colorado plays primairly man-to-man defense, and do a great job getting out on shooters and not giving up easy shots, especially from outside. Oregon, being a team made up of just a few competent offensive players, and those being outside players, is going to be a tough matchup. Meanwhile Colorado is well rounded with a lot of guys that can shoot. Colorado has much better numbers on both the offensive and defensive sides of this statitstical matchup. ADVANTAGE: BUFFALOES
TURNOVER %: These teams are almost mirrors of each other in this category. Both turn the ball over a lot, and neither force many turnovers, both ranking in the low 100s in turnovers, and the low 200s in turnovers forced. However, not only does Oregon have beter numbers in both categories, but the full court press has shown to cause turnovers in turnover prone teams (eg UCLA). ADVANTAGE: DUCKS
OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING %: Neither of these teams really do a whole lot of offensive rebounding, both almost right at 32% of missed shots. PUSH
FTA/FGA: I've said all season that Oregon is surprisngly adept at getting to the free throw line for a perimeter oriented team, with their free throw rate of 42.8% ranking 43rd in the land. CU is better at 45.1%, ranking 20th. However, the Both teams are also good at not giving up free throws, Oregon giving up FTs at a 30.0% rate (40th) and CU at 32.6% (90th). PUSH
The advanced stats suggest a statistical push, with CU's massive homecourt advantage being the margin of victory. That said, style of play is an issue as well, and Colorado is just far more balanced than Oregon, with more players on the floor who can do good things with the ball. I think its a very poor personnel matchup for the Ducks, and have a very real fear Oregon could get blown off the floor. Oregon will have to play much better than they have in their past two games to get it done. It will take the elusive complete, 40-minute performance that we have been waiting all season to see.