As Treasure Hunter Mel Fisher used to say, “Today’s the Day.” Oregon bring momentum in to the NCAA Tournament. A Three game winning streak, including the Pac 12 Title in a well played game against UCLA last week. The win did not do much for the seeding as we all know. The Ducks are the 12 seed in the Midwest Region, their opponent Thursday, Oklahoma State, a 5 seed.
When I look at these two teams that are very similar, Oregon (26-8, 12-6 Pac 12) and Oklahoma State(24-8, 13-5 Big 12). The Ducks could face some big matchup problems today, the main one being Freshman Marcus Smart – more on him in a few…
Aside from Freshman, all Oregon players have post season experience, either from the NIT or the CBI run. The lone Senior with NCAA Tournament experience is Tony Woods. After watching the Pac 12 Championship last weekend in Las Vegas I don’t think any of these Ducks will have a problem adjusting to San Jose. (in a way, it’s like playing USC/UCLA/Stanford or Cal, just on a different floor.)
To be successful Oregon will have to find a way to deal with Big 12 Freshman and Conference Player of the Year Marcus Smart. He is averaging nearly 16 points per game along with six rebounds, four assists and three steals per contest. Smart will likely only have one shot in the NCAA’s as he will likely go the way of the NBA Draft Lottery. Other players to watch include Markel Brown and Phil Forte. The Ducks will be busy on Defense, Smart can move the ball around and double teaming him could burn the Ducks.
For Oregon’s offense, the key is a solid start and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. I expect Johnathan Loyd to see the floor sooner than later since he had the hot hand against UCLA in the Title game, especially if Artis is struggling. With Oregon having the rebound monster known as Arsalan Kazemi on the floor Oregon will see it’s shot opportunities. The more scorers the better, if the shots fall against the Cowboys. If the Ducks can get a few players in double figures they should be in good shape.
Oregon also will be with Freshman Dominic Artis, who says he is fully recovered from the foot injury that sidelined him for a month during the Pac 12 Season.
Oregon and Oklahoma State Tipoff is (Approx.) 1:40pm Thursday on TNT.
On a sidenote, Oregon may have history on their side, in this week’s LinkedUp, I shared an old, grainy video from the 1939 NCAA Championship won by Oregon, their only title in Basketball. I emailed Andy McNamara from the U of O earlier this week about the 1939 Championship Trophy and he told me it was with them in San Jose this week for the Tournament.
The Winner of the Oregon and Oklahoma State game will face St. Louis on Saturday. Official Tip time for Oregon is set at 1:49PT (just announced by CBS)
There are plenty of options of following March Madness:
You can follow along with our Open Thread of all the action of Day 1. If you are able you can watch the games on MarchMadness.com (from CBS/Turner Sports). All you need is your Cable/Satellite provider login. The games on CBS are free to watch on Sportsline.com – no login required.
Oregon Ducks This Week:NCAA Tournament: Oregon Faces St Louis On Saturday…What’s A Billiken? NCAA Tournament: Making The Floor For The Final Four Oregon Basketball: Coach Dana Altman Chats With Jim Rome About NCAA Seeding, Oklahoma State And The Season