The usually-dominant Oregon football team had a down season, but the Ducks' basketball team is making Phil Knight proud as the Pac-12 leader and perhaps the best in school history. OK, modern history because Oregon did win the National Championship in 1939. No. 11 Oregon starts a tough two-game road trip through the San Francisco Bay area on Thursday night at a California team that needs an upset.
UAB at Southern Miss (+8)
No national TV for this Conference USA game at 8 p.m. ET. The Blazers (20-4, 10-1) hold a one-game lead over Middle Tennessee for the conference lead, and I'd imagine the C-USA is just going to be a one-bid league for the tournament champion. UAB is currently projected by ESPN as only a No. 15 seed in the Big Dance presumably because C-USA is so weak. All four UAB losses aren't good: Auburn, Illinois, Virginia Tech and Western Kentucky. UAB has won three straight since that WKU loss and destroyed Florida Atlantic 104-67 on Saturday. Seven players scored in double figures in UAB's 23rd straight home win. Blazers sophomore William Lee had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots in 22 minutes. "That's about a complete of a game that we've played to this point of the season," UAB coach Jerod Haase said.
Southern Miss (7-14, 4-6) lost its second straight Saturday, 72-65 at Rice. After trailing 28-27 at the intermission, the Owls hit 11 of their first 12 shots to start the second half. Rice shot 59.1 percent after intermission. Keljin Blevins scored a team-high 14 points for USM. The Golden Eagles have won their past two home games, though, and are 5-3 ATS there this season. This is the only regular-season meeting between UAB and Southern Miss. The Blazers were 2-0 in the series last year, winning by seven in Hattiesburg.
Key trends: UAB is 6-1 against the spread in its past seven vs. teams with a losing record. It is 5-2 ATS in its past seven on the road. USM is 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings at home.
I'm leaning: UAB.
No. 4 Iowa at Indiana (+2)
This Big Ten matchup is clearly the game of the night and tips at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Iowa (19-4, 10-1) is alone atop the conference standings and currently projected as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region for the Big Dance. The Hawkeyes perhaps were caught in a trap game Sunday at Illinois but won 77-65. Peter Jok had 23 points, and Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff added 18 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 in Big Ten road games for the first time since 1997-98. The 10-1 record is the program's best start in Big Ten play since going 10-1 in the 1981-82 season. The last time Iowa was in first place in the Big Ten this deep in the season was 10 years ago.
Indiana (19-5, 9-2) is just a game back of Iowa for the conference lead. While Iowa was able to avoid a look-ahead game this weekend, Indiana wasn't as it was shocked 68-63 at a pretty bad Penn State team. The Hoosiers entered the game on pace with the 2001-02 Kansas team as the only squads in NCAA history to score 85-plus points per game, make more than 50 percent of its field goals and shoot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in a season. But Indiana hit only 36.2 percent overall vs. PSU and 33.3 percent from long range. This game should be a shootout as these are the top two scoring teams in the conference. It's the only regular-season matchup.
Key trends: Indiana is 7-2 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The Hoosiers are 7-3 ATS in the past 10 at home.
I'm leaning: Indiana, which is 13-0 at home this season and generally has destroyed people in Bloomington. Only two of IU's games there have been decided by six points or fewer.
No. 11 Oregon at California (+1.5)
Pac-12 matchup at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The Ducks (20-4, 9-2) lead the Pac-12 by 1.5 games over USC and by two over preseason favorite Arizona. Oregon will close the regular season at USC. Coach Dana Altman's team is currently projected as a No. 3 seed in the West Region. Oregon brings a six-game winning streak into this one off a 76-66 home win over Utah on Sunday. Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Dillon Brooks set career highs with 30 points and nine assists. Chris Boucher was iffy to play with an ankle injury suffered in the previous game but did and finished with 15 points and four rebounds. Oregon is off to its best start overall in nine years and best in the Pac-12 in 14.
California (15-8, 5-5) has two of the better freshmen in the nation but is on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ESPN does have the Bears in as a No. 11 seed. The Bears stayed unbeaten at home this season with a 76-61 victory over Stanford on Saturday. Jaylen Brown, one of those star freshmen and the team's leading scorer, had 16 points, and Kameron Rooks had career highs of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Ivan Rabb leads Cal in rebounding (8.4 rpg), blocks (29), field goal shooting (62.1 percent) and double-doubles (eight). He had 10 points and eight boards vs. Stanford. Cal leads the Pac-12 in both scoring and field-goal percentage defense. At home, the Bears are allowing just 62.0 ppg and 36.4 percent shooting from the floor. Cal lost at Oregon (also unbeaten at home) 68-65 on Jan. 6. Brown had 20 points and nine boards and Rabb 17 & 8. Oregon won despite shooting 40.7 percent from the field (24-for-59) and 50 percent from the foul line (13-for-26). Brooks had just four points.
Key trends: The Ducks have covered their past six vs. teams with a winning record. Cal is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home. The Ducks are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: California.
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