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UO feels a cushion after fall in polls.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

It's getting to be the part of the basketball season where numbers matter.

Not so much the national rankings, where Oregon remained No. 19 in both major polls announced Monday, but what the computers think of the Ducks.

When the selection committee announces the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament on March 17, a good portion of their analysis of teams will be attempting to compare them, and when there aren't head-to-head results, the computers come into play.

As of Monday, the Ducks were still generally well thought of by the computers.

At RealTimeRPI.com, for instance, Oregon is ranked 27th, the same rating given to the Ducks by the NCAA's own RPI.

Here's the rub on that: Neither one of those puts the Ducks (18-4 overall, 7-2 in the Pac-12) ahead of Colorado, which is Oregon's opponent on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena.

The Buffaloes (14-7 overall, 4-5 in the Pac-12) are favored by the computers because of a schedule that ranks among the 20 most-difficult for NCAA teams. Oregon, by contrast, has played a schedule that RealTimeRPI ranks as the 90th most difficult, and other computer rankings think even less of the teams the Ducks have played.

In the Sagarin, where Oregon is ranked 45th, the schedule for the Ducks ranks as the 105th most-difficult.

Colorado, ranked 50th in the Sagarins, has played the 12th hardest schedule, in the view of that rating.

So Thursday as the Ducks seek their 21st consecutive home victory and Colorado attempts to even its Pac-12 mark, the outcome will matter greatly to the computers ... and perhaps some time in the future to the NCAA's selection committee.

There is one other thing that the selectors for the NCAA field will take into account: injuries to key players.

So in that regard, Oregon's losses over the past weekend are likely to be discounted in importance since starting point guard Dominic Artis didn't play in either game.

The key factor for the Ducks, as they're judged by the selection committee members, is whether Artis is back and healthy for the tournament, and whether once he comes back, Oregon again plays better than it did when he was absent.

In terms of the polls, that Oregon didn't fall out of the top 20 for either the media voting for The Associated Press, nor the coaches voting in the USA Today poll, which also had Oregon 19th, is a good sign of the national opinion of the Ducks not wavering after two losses.

What the Ducks are noting about being ranked is that no opponent looks past Oregon.

"I wouldn't say it's pressure," UO senior Tony Woods said. "When you have a number beside your name, it's easy for everybody else to get up and play against you, so you get everybody's best game."

Fellow UO senior Arsalan Kazemi sounded the same theme, saying "we know when we're ranked every team is going to come after us super hard.

"Before we were just Oregon, now we're the Oregon that is ranked."
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Title Annotation:Oregon Men Basketball; Ducks fall hard in AP ranking but can improve an already comfortable RPI slot by beating Colorado
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Feb 5, 2013
Words:509
Previous Article:Once in a lifetime.
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