OSU — Marcus Smart (6-foot-4, 225 pounds, freshman)
Oregon — Dominic Artis (6-foot-1, 185 pounds, freshman)
Analysis: In so many ways, Marcus Smart is the Cowboys' ultimate trump card, filling in needed areas at necessary times. He rebounds well, defends all positions and shoulders a role more complex than your normal point guard. But pegged in this spot, he's an obvious mismatch for all teams, Oregon included. Dominic Artis is a talented freshman, still working his way back from a foot injury (only five points in three Pac-12 tournament games). But regardless of health, at three inches taller and 40 pounds heavier, the ultracompetitive Smart is a nightmare for Artis.
OSU — Markel Brown (6-foot-3, 190 pounds, junior)
Oregon — Damyeon Dotson (6-foot-5, 202 pounds, freshman)
Analysis: Somewhat similar players, with similar builds, but Markel Brown's game is a bit more polished. That's what two extra seasons in college will do for you. Brown averages 15.3 points per game, Dotson averages 10.8. Brown has hit 50 threes this season, Dotson has hit 38. Brown flies out of the gym, Dotson (like all of us) just hopes he doesn't wind up on a poster. Intriguing matchup, but one where the Cowboys hold an advantage and should attack.
OSU — Le'Bryan Nash (6-foot-7, 230 pounds, sophomore)
Oregon — E.J. Singler (6-foot-6, 215 pounds, senior)
Analysis: At 11.6 points per game, Singler actually leads Oregon in scoring. But that still falls nearly three points below Nash's average of 14.1, which is only third on OSU's roster. So there's some obvious disparity there. But that speaks more toward Oregon's balance than anything else. Singler is a solid player. Has been for four years in Eugene. And you know he'll come to play, with his college career in the balance. Nash, on the other hand, is a wild card. We'll have to wait until tip, maybe even a bit after, to know which version we're going to get.
OSU — Michael Cobbins (6-foot-8, 220 pounds, sophomore)
Oregon — Arsalan Kazemi (6-foot-7, 226 pounds, senior)
Analysis: Of the four frontcourt starters in this game, Kazemi is the shortest. But despite that, he's also the best rebounder. A transfer from Rice, Kazemi has averaged nine or more boards in all four of his college seasons, including 9.5 per game this year, third best in the Pac-12. He's also a capable scorer, averaging 9.3 points. So it'll be key for Michael Cobbins, an above average interior defender, to neutralize Kazemi and try to play this one to at least a draw.
OSU — Phil Jurick (6-foot-11, 260 pounds, senior)
Oregon — Tony Woods (6-foot-11, 243 pounds, senior)
Analysis: Woods is more offensively skilled, while Jurick is a bit more impactful on the defensive end. But let's be honest, neither is expected to play a vital role in this one. Woods occasionally puts up a big game, but he's been quiet of late. And Jurick has been basically nonexistent, with Ford routinely banishing him to the bench three minutes into each half, not to be heard from again.
OSU — Phil Forte/Brian Williams and Kamari Murphy
Oregon — Carlos Emory and Johnathan Loyd
Analysis: Both teams have two bench guys expected to play vital roles in their respective postseason runs. Forte, in particular, is huge for the Cowboys, but must correct his struggling shot (he's 18/70 — 25 percent — from three since the beginning of February) to maximize his value. For Oregon, Carlos Emory plays a similar role, as a microwave scorer off the bench who can get hot at any time (he went off for 20 huge points in the Pac-12 title game). If either of the two gets hot, it could swing the game.
OSU — 24-8 overall, 13-5 Big 12, No. 5 seed
Oregon — 26-8 overall, 12-6 Pac-12, No. 12 seed
Analysis: This really has become one of the more intriguing matchups of the opening weekend. Oklahoma State brings the star power (Smart/Nash/Brown), while Oregon brings the momentum (Pac-12 Tourney champs) and motivation (wildly under-seeded at a 12). But when both teams are at their best (certainly not a guarantee), OSU seems to have a better best, a higher ceiling. But it should be a good one.