Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Beat Writer Alissa Noe at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
After a successful separation week with big wins against Stanford and California, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team will look to continue its hot streak against No. 16 Oregon and Oregon State this week.
Though the college basketball rankings are constantly changing this season, Oregon made the biggest leap in the polls between weeks 12 and 13, from No. 23 to No. 16, on the tail of victories at then No. 18. Arizona and Arizona State.
The Ducks lead the conference standings uncontested with an 18-4, 7-2 record, but three teams lag closely behind. USC, Utah, Colorado and Washington are tied for second in the conference with 6-3 records, but while the first three teams sit at 17-5 overall, the Huskies are 14-7.
Here’s a fun fact: the Ducks have rolled to seven straight wins since their last loss, which came against — that’s right — Colorado. But this is a different Oregon team than the one the Buffs last saw in Boulder.
Oregon has beaten some pretty notable teams since then, earning them a spot in the AP Top 25. No. 21 USC and No. 18 Arizona were among them, and anyone who’s ever been to the McKale Center in Tuscon knows how hostile that environment can be to play in.
The Ducks are ranked third in RPI in Division I basketball out of 351 teams. Colorado is 20th, so they’re not terribly far behind, but the fact remains that Oregon is as battle-tested as they come in the NCAA this season.
Not only that, but the Ducks have been near-perfect at home this year, with their only loss coming against UNLV near the end of non-conference play. They thwarted Arizona State in their most recent contest, 91-74, but only after the Sun Devils gave them a run for their money throughout the first 26 minutes of that game.
The Ducks are averaging 78 points per game off of 47.1 percent shooting and, just like last time, Dillon Brooks (16.6 ppg), Elgin Cook (13.5), Tyler Dorsey (13.5) and Chris Boucher (12.8) are leading that offensive effort.
On top of that, they’re averaging 37 rebounds per game, which was what ultimately helped the Buffs win their last meeting, 39 boards to 25. Otherwise, both teams were matched evenly on the offensive side of things in that previous matchup.
The Buffs, on the other hand, are averaging 78.9 points per contest off of 44.2 percent shooting, but they’re getting to the glass 42.6 times as well.
Again, defense will be the biggest key for the Buffaloes when they head to Oregon. They cannot let that, uh, interesting court distract them and, most importantly, they cannot let themselves sink into a hole too great to dig out of.
That may have worked for them at the beginning of the season, but lately their deficit-defeating skills have lacked finesse.
The Buffs will head to Eugene on Thursday, Feb. 4 in the hopes of an upset. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
Near the other end of that spectrum, Oregon State sits at 10th in the conference with a 12-8, 3-6 record. They, too, fell to the Buffs when they visited Colorado last, 71-54, despite a top-notch performance from Gary Payton II — aka “The Mitten”— who recorded 26 points and 15 rebounds.
He alone scored almost half of their points.
Unlike its first game this week, Colorado’s matchup in Beaver territory should be a little more black and white. OSU is 3-6 in conference play, which is considerably below average with the heightened level of competition between all Pac-12 teams this year. It should be noted, though, that they defeated some good teams: Oregon, Cal and then-No. 21 USC.
Needless to say, despite their track record, the Beavers aren’t a pushover team. However, that doesn’t mean that Colorado can’t go in there on Saturday and shut them down.
Now, in Colorado’s last win against OSU, senior forward Josh Scott went off. He scored 25 points and grabbed 12 boards, which was only complemented by junior forward Wesley Gordon’s and junior guard Josh Fortune’s extra 12 points apiece. And again, they won the rebounding game, which seems to be a common theme for Colorado’s road to success this season.
They also don’t necessarily have the same offensive firepower of the Ducks, with only two players averaging double-digit scoring: Payton (16.3 ppg) and Tres Tinkle (12.4 ppg). They’re producing roughly the same offense as Colorado, however, with 44 percent shooting on the season and 72 points per contest.
All in all, this game should result in a victory for the Buffaloes. They head to Corvallis at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, where you can catch the game on the Pac-12 Networks.