The Oregon Ducks may have a chip on their shoulder, while the Oklahoma State Cowboys hope to survive a staunch, early test in the NCAA Tournament.
The two clubs will meet in the second round of the Midwest Region Thursday afternoon at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The victor will face the winner of No. 4 Saint Louis vs. No. 13 New Mexico State in the third round.
No. 12 seed Oregon finished in a tie for second in the Pac-12 regular season, and ripped off three straight wins, including a 78-69 upset of UCLA in the tournament finale, and had the best overall record in the conference. Yet the selection committee either looked down on the Pac-12 or the Ducks in general.
Against UCLA, Carlos Emory and Johnathan Loyd came off the bench to score a combined 39 points and four steals, while team-leading scorer E.J. Singler struggled from the field. Singler was 4-for-10 for eight points, and guard Damyean Dotson led the starters with 13 points, while Arsalan Kazemi notched 12 points and 12 rebounds. It was the Ducks fourth consecutive win over the Bruins.
The No. 5 seed Cowboys fell 68-57 to Kansas State in the semifinals of the Big-12 tournament, shooting a poor 30 percent. Guard Marcus Smart, considered to be one of the best professional prospects in the tournament, tallied 18 points and six rebounds, but went 6-for-17 from the floor.
The loss wasn’t going to affect the Cowboys 25th trip to the tournament. Overall they are 38-23 in the big dance, but haven’t moved beyond the second round since 2005 when they reached the Sweet 16.
Oregon has a much shorter tournament history and is dancing for the first time since 2008. Over 10 appearances, the Ducks have made one Final Four, and have reached the Elite 8 twice in the past 11 years.
Oregon and Oklahoma State have only faced each other once, according to The Oregonian, with the Ducks prevailing 68-55 back in 1987.
The game tips-off at 4:49 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast by TNT, or watch a free live online stream at the NCAA March Madness official site here.
Betting Odds: Oklahoma State is favored by 2 points.
Over/Under: 135 points
Prediction: Oregon never played as talented a player as Smart during the regular season, and he should go off after a disappointing run in the Big-12 tourney. The Cowboys will have to control the glass, and defend the 3-point line well in order to win. Look for Oklahoma State to squeak by.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma State 69, Oregon 67
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