Colorado (14-16, 7-11) at Oregon St. (17-13, 8-10) / MGM Grand Hotel / 6 PM PST / Pac-12 Network / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. opens Pac-12 Tournament play tonight against Colorado. The Beavers are the 7th seed, while the Buffs enter as the 10th seed. Tip time will actually be about 6:10 PM.
Tonight's winner will play again tomorrow evening at the same time, and on the same channel, against second seed Oregon (23-8, 13-5).
The Beavers have had a full week to rest and regroup, after a close 65-62 loss to the Ducks, which was their 6th loss in their last 7 games. And in that skid, it was apparent that Oregon St.'s lack of depth was an issue, and an increasing one as the season wore on. That's a problem that's likely to reoccur in the Conference tournament, and is the main thing likely to stand between the Beavers and making a good enough run to reinsert themselves at least into the NIT conversation.
The Buffs aren't nearly as rested, having made the Washington trip in the last weekend of the season, and capping it off with a 96-91 loss in overtime at Washington St.
The Cougs' win also snapped what was a 2 game Colorado winning streak, as the Buffs began to regain the form that was expected of them this season.
It was a Buff campaign that disappointed in Boulder, but one caused in large part by an onslaught of injuries. Healthier now, All-Conference Askia Booker and Josh Scott lead a Colorado team that represents a bigger threat than their record might suggest. The Buffs made a 4 win run through the conference tournament in their first year in the Pac-12, and its not impossible that we could see another "Run, Ralphie Run" run.
That one win in Oregon St.'s last 7 games was the only meeting of the season between the Buffs and the Beavers, a 72-58 win in which the Beaver D held the Buffs to only 12 points in the first half. Gary Payton II, Oregon St.'s only All-Pac-12 player led the way, with a game high 24 points that night, but it was his 7 blocked shots, 5 defensive rebounds, and 4 steals, which were a factor in that season low in the conference 12 point half, that set the tone, and was a leading example of why he was also named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
7 seeds have defeated 10 seeds 9 of 12 times in the Pac-12 tournament, but Colorado is a 3.5 point favorite for tonight's game. Oregon St. has also had a hard time at the MGM Grand, losing 4 of 5 games they have played there, including both games earlier this season, when the Beavers played Oklahoma St. and Auburn. Oregon St. does have the distinction of playing the first game ever on the MGM Grand floor.
For those wondering, and contrary to some rumors, Oregon St. Coach Wayne Tinkle has a) NOT announced his starting lineup for tonight's game in advance in advance, and b) will PROBABLY go with the usual one, as shown in the game notes (link above) under the heading PROBABLE.
Tinkle acknowledged the 5 walkons on the team by starting them against Oregon, and had some fun at the Pre-Tournament press conference yesterday (see above) with the same group and theme, which may have picked up some press coverage.