Yesterday it was the small schools that took center stage as most power conferences took the day off. Today, it’s the big boy’s turn as nearly every major conference in the country is in action today, with a whopping 133 games on the schedule. The headlining game of the day comes to us from Morgantown as the West Virginia Mountaineers host the Texas Longhorns in a Big 12 battle.
— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 9, 2021
Other top games include Rutgers hosting Ohio State, Utah and Oregon squaring off out west, and Kansas and Oklahoma playing in Lawrence. Ranked teams like Duke, Creighton, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Houston, TCU, Tennessee, and Virginia will also all play today. But even with all of these top programs in action, we are still feeling the bite of the Corona Virus as games between Florida State and Pittsburgh, Michigan and Penn State, and Clemson and North Carolina have all been either canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 related concerns.
For our free daily betting pick, we will head to the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on the campus of Utah University, as the Utah Utes host the Oregon Ducks in a PAC-12 conference game with both teams coming off of a loss.
- Oregon Ducks (8-2) at Utah Utes (4-3)
- Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City
- 6:30 PM PST
- TV: PACN
The Utah Utes are happy to be back in Salt Lake City as they have struggled on the road and are looking forward to some home cooking tonight as they host the Oregon Ducks. Utah has lost back-to-back games, both coming on the road in league play to tough competition. The Utes have yet to win a game over the top-100, and a win tonight over Oregon would be the signature win of the season for Utah.
— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 9, 2021
For Oregon, the Ducks are ranked in the top-25 but saw their eight-game winning streak snapped in their last game, a loss on the road, at Colorado. The Ducks would like to add another top-100 win to their resume as they already have wins over Stanford, San Francisco, and Seton Hall. The Ducks are chasing UCLA for first place in the PAC-12 standings and trail the Bruins by one game in the loss column.
Oregon Ducks (8-2)
The Oregon Ducks have made a case as the best team in the PAC-12. The loss at Colorado might have surprised some people, but I think that game said a lot more about the Buffaloes than it did about the Ducks, as Colorado is a lot better than most people seem to think. The Ducks use a very balanced attack with three guys scoring at least 11 points per game.
The leader on the floor for Oregon is Eugene Omoruy. Omoruy is a senior transfer from Rutgers and has played really well with the Ducks. His first game with Oregon came in the season opener against Missouri, and he exploded for 31 points and 11 rebounds. He has scored double-digit points in every single game this season, and if the Ducks want to win on the road tonight, they are going to need a big performance out of their big man.
Utah Utes (4-3)
The middle of the pack in the PAC-12 is stacked with mediocrity. Teams like Arizona State, Stanford, and Utah are all fighting to finish in the top half of the standings and end up on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. The league isn’t strong overall, and if a team doesn’t finish with a winning record in league play, I am not sure they have any real shot of hearing their names called on Selection Sunday.
Utah is sitting towards the bottom of that pile right now, as they played a stupid soft schedule in the non-conference, and their best win of the non-conference season came over 260th ranked Utah Valley. The Utes have done a nice job of protecting their home floor, though, as they are 4-0 at the Huntsman Center, but three of those four wins came over teams ranked outside of the top-250 nationally, with the only somewhat respectable win coming over a Washington Huskies team that is 1-8. It has been quantity not quality so far this year for Utah.
Who Do I Like?
If you read my daily picks often, you know that I love taking home underdogs, particularly in league play. I very rarely ever lay wood on the road in league play, as it is just not a high-value spot most of the time. But I am going to break my own rules tonight and back the Ducks in this one. I just don’t think that Utah is capable of beating a quality team, no matter where the game is being played.
Timmy Allen is a nice player for Utah, but he tends to disappear in tough games, and I don’t think he can be relied upon to will his Utes to victory tonight, over a Ducks team that has a much higher level of talent. Allen scored just 5 points in a losing effort against USC in the Utes last game, and against BYU earlier this year, in another loss, he has just 11 points on 4-12 shooting from the field. Allen has racked up respectable stats, but all of his success has come against weak competition and he disappears when it matters.
I don’t think Oregon is going to blow this Utah team out tonight on the road. But I do think they are going to win the game, and it’s not going to be all that tightly contested. Both of Oregon’s losses this season have come to good teams, and while Colorado and Missouri might not be household names this year, they are both locks to be playing meaningful games in March, Utah isn’t. Last year, the Ducks went into Salt Lake City and won by 5-points, and I see this game being a similar outcome.
Kenpom has Oregon winning this game by three, so the fact that we only have to lay a couple of points is a nice little cherry on top. One point off of the data isn’t a huge gap by any means, but I would always rather be on the side of the data, getting an extra point, than the other way around. So, I’ll back what I see as the far superior team in this one and take Oregon.
The Ducks have only lost to strong teams, and the Utes have yet to show any ability to beat an elite team like Oregon. Give me the Oregon Ducks tonight on the road, as they get right back to their winning ways, against an overmatched Utah Utes team. I’ll call it a 78-70 final score from Salt Lake City!