OREGON DUCKS (13-2)
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (7-6)
Alaska Airlines Arena – Seattle, WA
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00pm ET
Line: Oregon -8
#15 Oregon will look to stay hot against struggling Washington in Seattle.
In a tale of two programs, the streaking Oregon Ducks (6-7 ATS), winners of 11 straight after their sweep of UCLA and USC last week, look to add to the home woes of Washington (4-8 ATS) after the Huskies lost to in-state rival Washington State as a 12 point favorite on Sunday night. Washington has won just three of their last eight contests and five of their last seven losses the total has been OVER. (Washington’s last two wins with a line have seen the total go UNDER.) The Huskies are 0-3 (0-3 ATS) as an underdog. In the Ducks’ 11-game streak (5-5 ATS) they didn’t play any true road games, and their only road test was a loss at Baylor early in the season where they scored a season-low 49 points. Historically, Oregon is 8-2 over its last 10 against Washington but just 3-7 ATS (since Feb. 2012). This is the first time the road team is favored since Jan. 2014 (a span of five games). The Huskies are 6-1 ATS versus the Ducks since Feb. 2013 and the underdog in this matchup is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings. Oregon will be the second ranked opponent that the 7-6 Huskies play this season, as they got clobbered at Gonzaga (98-71, Wash +15) on Dec. 7. Oregon will have had plenty of rest – something they’re accustomed to this season - as their last game was on Friday. The Ducks are 5-2 (2-4 ATS) on 3+ days rest this season.
Finally fully healthy, Coach Dana Altman’s Ducks look as dangerous as any team in America after taking down #2 UCLA and # 22 USC in three days. It should come as no surprise that consecutive wins over ranked teams featured the resurgence of F Dillon Brooks (14.8 PPG) who averaged 25.5 PPG last week. As discussed right here on StatFox, Brooks was still working his way back into shape after offseason surgery – but the plan was always for the proverbial “rust” to have been knocked off by conference play. A game-winning three for Brooks with 0.8 seconds left to topple the #2 team in the country (UCLA) was some way to announce that “I’m back”. F Chris Boucher (13.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.1 BPG), who was arguably Oregon’s best player while Brooks was on the mend, is also finally healthy after injuries cost him two games in mid-December. Boucher has come off the bench since his return, with the starting unit clicking so well but has still averaged 25.5 minutes per game and chipped in 11 points and five blocks on Friday against USC. In Brooks’ shadow of his marvelous 9-for-10 FG, 28-point performance Friday against USC was G Dylan Ennis (11.5 PPG), who supported the offense with 20 points on 8-for-15 FG in the 84-61 win. F Jordan Bell (10.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.3 BPG) continued his solid play as well this past week with 22 points and 13 rebounds over two games. Bell has really improved his discipline on defense, fouling at a career-low rate while staying on the court for longer than ever before (27 MPG). When Oregon can boast Bell and Boucher on the court together, they become a nightmare for opposing offenses in the paint. Emerging at point guard for Oregon has been freshman Payton Pritchard (7.8 PPG, 4.1 APG), a local product who ran the offense to the tune of 16 assists versus just three turnovers against UCLA and USC last week. Watching Oregon’s tops-in-the-nation rim protection against arguably the most talented player in college basketball, Washington’s freshman phenom Markelle Fultz, will be quite a show on Wednesday night. Fultz is masterful at getting to the line, but Oregon only commits 16.8 fouls per game (42nd in NCAA), more remarkable considering their proficiency at blocking shots. On offense, Oregon’s attack should have no issues with Washignton - one of the worst defenses amongst all Power 7 schools (80.1 PPG, 300th in NCAA).
Coach Lorenzo Romar will have his work cut out for him if his Huskies are to realistically compete on Wednesday night with the Ducks. Boasting a seven-point halftime lead against Washington State, the Huskies laid down in the second half to their hated rivals, losing a 71-67 lead in a 12-point run for the Cougars that put the game out of reach. On paper this just isn’t a game that plays to Washington’s strengths, however they can’t be counted out of any game when they usually have the best player on the floor, Markelle Fultz. Fultz was just one rebound shy (26 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists) of the first triple-double in Washington history and his season averages of 22.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.7 APG hint that it may not be a question of “if” but “when” Fultz does achieve that landmark. The 6’4” future lottery pick has put the Huskies on his back this season, but unfortunately that hasn’t translated into wins. Sophomore F Noah Dickerson (12.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG) has emerged as a solid complimentary threat in the paint for Fultz (16 PPG, 10.3 RPG over his last four games) and fellow sophomore David Crisp (14.1 PPG) is one of the Pac 12’s better long-range bombers (46.2% 3PT, 2.8 3PM), but Washington’s main issue is defense, or the lack of it. The Huskies youth leads to a lack of discipline and communication on the other side of the floor, and when you combine that with Coach Romar’s trademark up-tempo offense, it leads to a multitude of opportunities for opponents to score on long rebounds and odd-number fast breaks. Washington has that puncher’s chance of pulling an upset if they can attack Oregon with a barrage of threes, as their 42.4% 3PT is second in the nation.