Representing the eighth and ninth seeds of the West Bracket, the 25-9 Oregon Ducks take on the 18-13 Oklahoma State Cowboys. These two teams enter the tournament trending in very different directions. Oregon is riding high as winners of 11 out of their last 12 games with their only loss coming to Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oklahoma State is losers of 6 out of their last7 games which included a 4 game losing streak. The style of play for these two teams is also vastly different as the Ducks rely on a prolific offense to win games while the Cowboys boast one of the better defenses in the country.
Oklahoma State started the year off great going 7-0 and had big wins over tournament bound teams including Texas, Baylor and Kansas. They weren’t able to keep it up as they struggled to the finish but they did have the 10th toughest schedule in the nation. While they rely on their defense they do possess 2 offensive threats in Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte III. Nash is a 6 foot 7 senior guard who averages 17 points and 5 rebounds per game and is capable of carrying the Cowboys to a win in this tournament. Phil Forte III is a junior guard who averaged 15 points per game and shoots the 3 point shot well at a 39%. Defensively, they rank 22nd and 26th in the country in both blocks and steals. Michael Cobbins is a 6 foot 8 senior who averages 2 blocks per game and is a big defensive presence in the paint with the ability to alter plenty of shots.
Oregon has a prolific offense which has scored 90 or more points several times this year and reached the century mark with 107 points scored in a win of Coppin State early in the year. They are led by the Pac-12 player of the year Joseph Young. Young averaged 20 points and 4.5 assists per game, leads the conference in 3 point field goals made per game and shoots 91% from the free throw line. The Ducks also have freshman forward Dillon Brooks who averaged 11.5 points and 5 rebounds a game and Junior Forward Elgin Cook who averages 13 points and 5 rebounds a game. They have a record this year of 4-5 against tournament teams and finished number 26th in the RPI rankings. Overall the Ducks rank in the top 40 in both scoring offense (24th) and defensive rebounds (35th)
Oregon enters this contest at the higher seed but both of these teams are evenly matched with their own strengths and weaknesses. Oregon is the team that is playing much better at the right moment and although they had the easier schedule this year, they finished with a better record than Oklahoma State did against teams in the top 100 RPI. Oregon has been slightly better against the spread going 18-15 while Oklahoma State went 14-14.
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