Colorado Buffaloes vs. Oregon Ducks Pick & Prediction MARCH 16th 2024

LAS VEGAS — Oregon, the fourth seed in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, could be playing for its NCAA Tournament life when it takes on third-seeded Colorado in the conference title game on Saturday night.

The Ducks (22-11) likely need the automatic berth that will come with a victory in the final Pac-12 tourney, while the Buffaloes (24-9) have been considered to have done enough to deserve an at-large berth.

And that was before they knocked off No. 22-ranked and second-seeded Washington State 58-52 in a semifinal game on Friday night.

But the bigger stunner was Oregon’s earlier upset of sixth-ranked and top-seeded Arizona on Friday. The Ducks rallied from 14 down in the first half, went up 13 with about five minutes to go, and then held on to win 67-59.

Jermaine Couisnard and Jackson Shelstad combined for 41 points for Oregon, making 7 of 15 3-pointers. N’Faly Dante had 14 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals despite missing about 12 minutes after suffering a leg injury early in the game.

“Those three really did some great things,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Our energy wasn’t really good the first half when we were missing those shots. And we knocked those down and we got really good energy there.

“So we live another day.”

Colorado has won eight consecutive games, including 79-75 at Oregon on March 7. The Buffaloes earlier beat the visiting Ducks 86-70 on Jan. 18.

“We’re going to have to play a hell of a game to win,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said of beating Oregon a third time.

Colorado’s KJ Simpson is averaging 19.5 points per game, and Boyle said he thinks Simpson is the best defensive point guard in the Pac-12.

“What’s the word you guys use?” Boyle asked rhetorically in his post-game press conference. “He’s a dawg.”

Tristan da Silva averages 16.0 points, and Eddie Lampkin Jr. has been a force down low, averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, setting up an intriguing battle with Dante.

Colorado won the first Pac-12 tournament title in 2012 and could win the last one this season. Colorado and Oregon are among the teams leaving the Pac-12 after this season, with the Buffaloes headed to the Big 12 and the Ducks to the Big Ten.

–Anthony Gimino, Field Level Media

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