Colorado - Oregon

Colorado (18-10) travels to Eugene, Ore., to play the Oregon Ducks (15-12) in the first round of the NIT Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. (MT), and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Here's a breakdown of the contest.

The Ducks, coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, were hampered by injuries throughout the preseason and well into February. Starters Mitch Platt (four games) and Aaron Brooks (10) missed 14 games between them. Both are healthy for Wednesday's game. Oregon blew double-digit leads to lose against Stanford and Washington during that stretch, and lost in OT at Cal.

Oregon is a team that can run, and put a lot of points on the board. UO can and will shoot the trey. They average over nine 3-pointers a game on 40-percent shooting from beyond the arc. In contrast, the Buffs average 6.5 treys on 37-percent shooting.

Colorado, meanwhile, played well in the month of February, winning five-of-seven games, including a 10-point win over then No. 22 Texas Tech in Boulder.


Who's Got Luke?
As he does for most teams, Oregon's senior forward Luke Jackson presents a matchup problem for Colorado. At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, Jackson is good around the basket. He leads Oregon with 7.3 rebounds per game. But he also shoots 44 percent from beyond the arc, where he's averaged 2.4 treys a game. Jackson, recently named a Sporting News all-American, is one of four NCAA players to lead his team in points (21.1), rebounds and assists (4.6). Colorado will likely match Michel Morandais or Blair Wilson up with Jackson. The problem is that those are two of CU's top three scorers, and the Buffs can't afford to ask one of them to use all his energy on the defensive end of the floor. Six-foot-6 Glean Eddy could come off the bench and get the opportunity to try and slow Jackson, as well.

In The Paint
Like several teams have this season, Oregon will throw several bodies at CU junior center David Harrison, the Buffs' leading scorer (16.8 ppg). The Ducks have five players 6-8 or taller — three of whom will come off the bench, so they'll have some fouls to give. Harrison has a Big 12-best 11 double-doubles this season and has played the best, most consistent basketball of his collegiate career over the past six weeks. UO will start Platt, the 6-10, 270-pound freshman, defending Harrison.


Head Game
The biggest challenge CU has heading into Wednesday night's game doesn't wear green and gold. Following the news that they weren't going to the NCAA tourney, CU has been in a mental funk. Monday afternoon it was unclear if some of the CU players' hearts were really in the trip to Eugene. If the CU coaching staff is unable to get everyone on the same page, Wednesday's 10 o'clock game could be over by the time Letterman and Leno hit the TV screens in Colorado.

Take Care of the Rock
If you like to look at statistical trends, look no further than assists and turnovers. Colorado has more turnovers than assists this season (408-393), but the Buffs are 12-0 when they take care of the ball and have more assists than giveaways. CU is 6-9 when they commit more turnovers than assists. Morandais, especially, has had trouble with turnovers as of late. The senior has 21 turnovers in the past five games.

Keep the Big Man Involved
While Harrison went on a mid-season tear that lasted into March, Texas Tech took him out of the game on the offensive end of the floor in CU's loss to the Red Raiders in the Big 12 tourney. TTU double- and triple-teamed the 7-footer all game long, and he took just four shots from the field. If UO decides to employ a similar tactic, CU guards must hit the outside shots that will be there and loosen up the inside defense, or force the issue by driving the lane and dishing to the big man. Either way, Harrison must be involved in the Buffalo offense.


Oregon State Beavers
Colorado 81, OSU 66 (Dec. 1)
OSU 90, Oregon 81 (Jan. 10)
Oregon 81, OSU 74 (Feb. 7)

California Bears
Colorado 78, California 60 (Dec. 6)
Oregon 68, California 56 (Jan. 29)
California 85, Oregon 81 OT (Feb. 26)
Oregon 87, California 82 (March 11)

Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas 77, Oregon 66 (Dec. 13)
Kansas 77, Colorado 62 (Jan. 5)
Kansas 78, Colorado 57 (Jan. 25)

The Ducks looked ready for another run at the Big Dance before they lost five-of-seven games in the month of February…Six-foot-3 senior guard Andre Joseph, along with Jackson, was one of two Ducks to be named to the Pac-10 Tournament all-star team…Oregon has won 24-straight non-conference games at home, dating back to 1999.

This will be the third NIT appearance for a Ricardo Patton-coached CU team, after trips to the tourney in 1999 and 2000…While it doesn't make a lot of sense, CU is second in the Big 12 in field goal percentage (46.5), but last in the league in free throw percentage (62.4) …Harrison averages more blocks per game (2.9), than the entire UO squad (1.9).

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