After two weeks on top of the Pac-12 men's basketball race, Oregon is now looking up at Colorado.

“We are finally the underdog so we have to come out and play with a chip on our shoulder,” Oregon sophomore guard Will Richardson said.

The Ducks have a chance to move back into a tie for first place when the Buffaloes visit Matthew Knight Arena at 6 p.m. Thursday, but a loss would give Oregon unfavorable odds of heading to Las Vegas as the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

“If we were not to be successful, that would put us at a big disadvantage,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said Wednesday. “We still control our own destiny if we win, but if we don’t, we will need a lot of help from a lot of people. This is a big game.”

No. 16 Colorado (19-5) is 8-3 in the conference including a 74-65 win over the 17th-ranked Ducks (18-6), who are 7-4. Oregon could fall as far down as sixth in the Pac-12 with a loss to the Buffaloes.

“To win the Pac-12, this is a must-win game,” Richardson said. “Every game from here on out is must-win if we want to control who wins the Pac-12.”

Oregon will once again be without 6-foot-11 freshman N’Faly Dante, who will miss his sixth straight game with a knee injury.

“I was hoping we might get him back this weekend,” Altman said. “He has been practicing a little bit, but he doesn’t feel like he’s ready.”

The Ducks will get sophomore forward Francis Okoro back after he missed Saturday’s 63-53 loss at Oregon State while attending his father’s funeral in Nigeria.

“Francis will help us rebound, an area where we have been struggling,” Richardson said. “His physicality is something we need so he brings a lot.”

Colorado will counter with 6-7 forward Tyler Bey, who ranks among the conference leaders with 13.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, alongside 6-8, 262-pound sophomore Evan Battey, who is averaging 6.0 rebounds.

“We haven’t done a good job inside defensively and teams know that,” Altman said. “We have got to get more physical. It’s that time of year with one month left where everyone is a little banged up and tired and the teams that muster up enough energy and physicality are usually the teams that finish strong.”

Colorado built a 15-point lead over Oregon in the second half of last month’s meeting before the Ducks rallied within four in the final five minutes.

“We’ve got to play a lot harder than we did the first time,” Richardson said. “Come out ready to compete.”

The Ducks are 12-0 at Matthew Knight Arena, the lone team in the conference without a home loss, but carry a two-game losing streak that matches their longest of the season.

“We know when we play hard and together that we are one of the best teams in the country,” Richardson said. “Our confidence is definitely there. The couple games we lost are in the past so we are ready to play.”