Oregon State (11-3, 2-1) at Colorado (12-4, 1-2) / Coors Event Center, Boulder, CO / 9 PM MST (8 PM PST) / ESPNU / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon State embarks on their first road trip of their conference season, and the first of two trips this week, taking on Colorado late tonight in Boulder.
ESPNU wants Wednesday and Sunday night live game content, and the Beavers' mountain trip(s) will provide it. It's why tonight's game will tip off after 9 PM locally on the Colorado campus, at about the time a game should be ending. It's also why Oregon State won't play Utah in Salt Lake City until Sunday night.
Ordinarily, this would be taking Pac-12 travel scheduling to ridiculous extremes, but the conference is providing charter air flights for 2 trips. The Beavers will fly home in the dark of the night early Thursday morning, and be in Corvallis Thursday (though asleep on their feet), supposedly for class, and then fly out again Saturday to Salt Lake City, returning by charter in the middle of the night again. At least there are no classes on Monday, Martin Luther King day. Rest assured, the cost of these charters will come out of the pool of $s the conference distributes.
The scheduling could provide Oregon State one advantage though, as they try to eek out a road win in what is quickly becoming the most competitive season the conference may have ever seen. The late late tip time could take the edge off of what is normally a huge home court advantage the Buffs normally have in their crowd.
The elevation won't change though, and at 5,300 feet, the Coors Event Center is the most rarefied air Oregon State will play in all year.
The Beavers enter the contest in third place in the Pac-12 (Oregon State holds the tie-breaker with Oregon due to their 70-57 Civil War win), a half game behind USC, and just 1 game behind still unbeaten in conference Washington, after a 77-71 OSU win over California last Saturday night in Corvallis.
It was a GP II clinic, as Gary Payton II posted a co-game high 20 points and a game high 11 rebounds for a double double to go with a game high 8 assists, and a game high 4 steals. Payton, the Pac-12 leader in steals, is the only player in the country averaging at least 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
He did get 15 points of help from freshman Tres Tinkle, including a clutch, late second half made shot from behind the backboard.
Colorado is in a jumble in the bottom half of the conference, though only 1 game behind Oregon State, after losing their intermountain rivalry battle with Utah 56-54 last Friday, on a game winning layup with 11 seconds left. This despite a game high 21 points by the Buffs' George King, and a 10/10 double double by Josh Scott.
It was the Buffs' 3rd loss in their last 4 games, putting an 11 game non-conference winning streak well in their rear view mirror.
All that suggests there's no way to confidently predict a winner tonight, though Colorado is a 4.5 point favorite. Its quite likely the margin won't be that big.
Colorado leads the series 11-5, and the Buffs have won 7 of 8 in Boulder. The Beavers won last year's only regular season meeting, 72-58 in Corvallis, but saw their Pac-12 Tournament and season end when the Buffs prevailed 78-71 on the first day of the tournament.