As soon as the seedings came out, everyone was stunned. Oregon, the winners of the Pac-12 Tournament, was given a 12-seed. It’s not like the Ducks had a bad regular season either. They won at UNLV in out-of-Conference play and finished only one Game behind UCLA in the Conference standings (plus they won at UCLA). So why did UCLA get a No. 6 seed and Oregon a 12? Nobody really knows. All that matters now is that they will have to face one of the best back cOurts in the country led by NBA-level talent Marcus Smart.
The Cowboys come in as -3 point favorites and even if Oregon isn’t really a 12-seed, Oklahoma State isn’t going to be a walkover. Everyone is talking about the Ducks speed and their ability to get up and down the cOurt at all positions, but will that be the case in this matchup? Led by Big 12 Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, OK State doesn’t get run over by many teams (none to be exact). Smart is known as a stat sheet stuffer that causes problems on both ends of the cOurt. He averages 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.9 steals per Game. It’s not only his height, but his strength at the guard position that is just too much for opposing players. Oregon will likely have to put one of their bigger players on him like forward Carlos Emory. Even then, he’s still 30 pounds lighter than Smart.
He’s not the only one that causes problems either for Oklahoma State. Point guard Markel Brown is more of the facilitator (but can still score) while Le’Bryan Nash has a sweet mid-range Game in addition to his ability to dominant his man in the paint. The trio averages a combined 44 points per Game. Not to mention, the Cowboys also have a kid that can shoot the lights out in Phil Forte. They don’t have a ton of size down low which may be a problem against Tony Woods in the early going, but it won’t determine the outcome.
The Ducks have speed and size at most positions, but they aren’t the strongest bunch. Dominic Artis is back from injury which helps with depth, but it was backup point guard Johnathan Loyd who came through with 19 points in their Championship Game win. Both of them lack size, but they make up for it with quickness. OUtside of those guards, Oregon has a few forwards that should be able to stick with those of OK State. Emory along with Damyean Dotson, E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi can all Scorewhen called upon, all averaging at least nine points per Game.
While they can run, Oregon has a problem turning the ball over and that’s where they could fail in this Game, especially against the thievery of Smart. As Smart is likely headed to the NBA after this season, look for him to carry this team for a win or two as he won’t want to leave early.
Of course, Oregon has a chip on their shoulder after their underseeding and this won’t be an easy win. The Cowboys haven fallen to lackadaisical play at times which has cost them in multiple Games this season. On the other end of that, the Ducks have preyed on lazy teams throughout the year. Yep, just your normal 5-12 matchup.