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Colorado downs Oregon

Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie drives on Oregon’s Ben Carter during the first half. (Associated Press)
Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie drives on Oregon’s Ben Carter during the first half. (Associated Press)

Spencer Dinwiddie has been defying his coach’s orders and looking at bracketology projections – in the middle of class, even.

The swift Colorado guard just can’t help studying the reports, wondering what seed his team might draw. He thinks the Buffaloes have proven they belong in the NCAA basketball tournament, especially after a 76-53 win over No. 19 Oregon on Thursday night in Boulder, Colo.

The Buffaloes (20-9, 10-7 Pac-12) improved to 4-2 against Top 25 teams this season. They even dismantled the Ducks while playing without the nation’s leading rebounder, Andre Roberson, who sat out with an illness.

Surely, that’s good enough to get the Buffs in, right?

Don’t bank on anything just yet. Colorado coach Tad Boyle certainly won’t.

He remembers all too clearly two years ago when he thought the Buffs were a lock to make the tournament, only to be left out. The sting of that disappointment has him looking only at the task at hand – a game against Oregon State on Saturday to close out the regular season.

As for whether his team has done enough to impress the selection committee, Boyle will never think his team has done enough until he sees Colorado in the field.

“Wish I could say yes,” Boyle said. “All I know is obviously our body of work is much better this year than it was two years ago. I still feel badly for that team two years ago. I’ve talked about it with the guys … all those guys were in my living room when that day occurred.

“It’s important we finish strong.”

No one realizes that more than the Ducks (23-7, 12-5), who were thwarted in their bid for an outright conference title.

Now, they’ve fallen into a first-place tie with UCLA, but the Ducks hold the tiebreaker after beating the Bruins in their only meeting in January.

Oregon has a chance to wrap up at least a share of its first league crown since 2002 – along with the No. 1 seed for the Pac-12 tournament – with a win at Utah on Saturday.

Freshman Xavier Johnson stepped up in Roberson’s absence, scoring a career-high 22 points.

Utah 72, Oregon State 61: Jordan Loveridge scored 17 points and collected 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season to help the Utes (12-17, 4-13 Pac-12) defeat the Beavers (13-17, 3-14) in Salt Lake City.