LAS VEGAS - Oregon’s three-game winning streak at the Pac-12 Tournament did not surprise those who set the betting lines in this town.
The sixth-seeded Ducks are the lowest seed to reach the tournament final since No. 6 Colorado won the championship in 2012, the first year of the expanded format. However, the Ducks (22-12) are favored by just about one point at most sports books as they face conference champ Washington (26-7) in the title game at 7:30 p.m. tonight at T-Mobile Arena.
The seeding says Oregon is the underdog for the third night in a row, but the gamblers did not buy that story. Oregon was favored by five points in a 66-54 win over Utah on Wednesday and was a two-point favorite before rallying to defeat Arizona State 79-75 last night.
Now the Ducks are one win away from clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament and maybe even in the conversation for an at-large bid if they lose to the Huskies.
“I think in the locker room, that was never out of reach for us,” Oregon senior Paul White said. “We understood where we were in the Pac-12. There were some things we couldn’t change, but going forward we have really come together. We’ve really matured and we really bought in.”
Oregon brings a seven-game winning streak into the title game and that run includes a 55-47 win at Washington exactly one week ago. The Huskies won 61-56 at Oregon on Jan. 24 when they scored the final 10 points of the game.
“We will be familiar with their sets, but they’ll be familiar with us,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “They’re a bunch of vets that are used to being in close, physical games. So we will have a good battle with them. The two games we had both went down to the wire so I’m sure we will be ready to play.”
Oregon held UW to a season low in points last week while limiting it to 33.3 percent shooting from the field. Payton Pritchard had five steals among 15 turnovers for the Huskies.
Pritchard led Oregon with 16 points, but was also able to find White and Francis Okoro in the middle of UW’s 2-3 zone as those two combined to go 8-for-13 from the field. Kenny Wooten was 3-for-4 at the rim.
“That’s the thing about their zone, they are long but once you get in there, there are gaps,” Pritchard noted after the win.
Oregon remained at No. 56 in the Net rankings after the win over the Sun Devils. That appears to make them a longshot for an at-large bid in the NCAA field, but the process is somewhat unknown in the first year that Net replaced RPI as a tool used by the selection committee.
The Ducks won’t have to sweat out the bracket reveal tomorrow if they beat the Huskies and the only questions will be their seed and travel plans. The Ducks would likely be a No. 10 or No. 11 seed and hope to stay close to home in San Jose or Salt Lake City.