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NCAA Tournament: What the experts are saying about the OSU-Oregon game

by Anthony Slater Modified: April 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm •  Published: March 19, 2013

By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater

There are plenty of opinions floating around the web, with differing stances on Thursday’s intriguing Oklahoma State-Oregon matchup in San Jose. Here are some of them:

ESPN’s Jay Bilas…

“No. 5 Oklahoma State over No. 12 Oregon: The Cowboys have a top-10 defense, and the play of freshman Marcus Smart will be the difference. Smart plays beyond his years, and Markel Brown is a special talent who is underappreciated. Oklahoma State does not shoot from the perimeter, with the exception of Phil Forte, but the Cowboys defend. Oregon is an excellent defensive team that does a solid job on the glass, but the Ducks turn it over on 21 percent of their possessions, 251st in the country. Oklahoma State will move on to play the winner of Saint Louis and New Mexico State.”

ESPN’s Peter Keating…

“What’s odd about this matchup is that Oklahoma State has strengths that counter many of the Ducks’ best weapons. The Cowboys don’t turn it over much (Marcus Smart gives it away some, but Markel Brown has a steady handle and reserve guard Phil Forte is second in the country in turnover rate) and they are better than average on the offensive glass. The Cowboys are too reliant on free throws, though (a stat our model has consistently targeted as a critical weakness for a high seed) and they don’t shoot well (or often) from 3-point range. The Cowboys rank only 56th in offensive efficiency, which means Oregon should be able to hang around. And in March, we know that can mean for an underdog.”

 ESPN’s Joe Lunardi…

CBS’ Gary Parrish…

“No. 12 Oregon over No. 5 Oklahoma State. I love Smart and the talent that Travis Ford has assembled in Stillwater. But I just think the Ducks will prove, in a close game, that the committee undervalued them drastically.”

Yahoo! Sports Jeff Eisenberg…

“It’s a disservice to Oklahoma State having to face a team of Oregon’s caliber in the opening round, but the upside to the committee seeding the Ducks incorrectly is it does make for an intriguing early matchup. Oregon isn’t playing at the same level as it was when it started the season 18-2 before an injury to Dominic Artis, but the Ducks do have their starting point guard back and they were able to play well enough in Las Vegas last week to capture the Pac-12 tournament title. What Oregon does well is speed up its opponents, force turnovers and dominate the offensive glass. Considering the Ducks will have a supportive crowd in San Jose and plenty of motivation courtesy of the selection committee, Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Oklahoma State will have to be at their best to avoid an upset.”

Sporting News…

“No team was as disrespected by the selection committee as Oregon. A No. 12 seed for the Pac-12 Tournament champ that would’ve been the regular-season champ if not for a foot injury to Artis? That ought to put a chip on the Ducks’ shoulders. This is a tough matchup, though. OSU’s Smart might well be the best player in the country, no matter what his stats say. He makes everyone around him significantly better, and as the season has worn on, he’s become more and more willing to take over games in crunch time. The Ducks’ small points, Artis and Loyd, could have trouble trying to contain the powerful 6-4 Smart. Neither team is good shooting from the perimeter, so the team that doesn’t settle for jumpers and instead drives the ball will win.”

Not what I’d call an ‘expert’ opinion, but here’s my take…

Oregon’s underseeding does seem a bit unjust, and provides OSU with a harder than you’d expect opening game, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. The Cowboys feel they have Final Four-type talent. Travis Ford has said they’re in a group of about 20 teams who feel they can win on any given night. So go out and do it. You’re going to face teams far better than Oregon on the potential road to Atlanta (like top-seeded Louisville in the Sweet 16). So view this as a necessary tune-up. Take care of business. OSU is better than Oregon. Question is: Will they play like it?

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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