As of Monday, March 18, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament over the weekend but that effort only earned the Ducks a No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region, where they'll take on fifth-seeded Oklahoma State on Thursday in San Jose, Calif. Oregon hasn't played in the NCAA Tournament since 2008, when it lost its opener to Mississippi State. The Cowboys are returning to the tournament for the first time since 2010, when they lost their opener to Georgia Tech. Oklahoma State is looking for its first win since beating Tennessee in the opening round of the 2009 tournament.
The Cowboys last played a Pac-12 team at the 2011 NIT Preseason Tournament in Madison Square Garden, losing to Stanford 82-67. Both teams faced Portland State two weeks apart in November. Oregon beat the Vikings 80-69 on Nov. 12 and the Cowboys knocked them off 81-58 on Nov. 25. The winner of this game will play either 13th-seeded New Mexico State or No. 4 Saint Louis in Saturday's second round.
TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE (24-8): Marcus Smart beat out a talented field to join Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley as the only players to win Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors in the same season. The 6-4 freshman point guard is ranked in the top 10 in the conference in scoring (15.4), rebounds (5.7) and assists (4.2). He'll likely be matched against another freshman point guard, Dominic Artis of Oregon. "Our team has had a great season and Marcus has been a big part of that," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "Marcus is one of the most competitive players I've been around. He comes ready to play every single day."
ABOUT OREGON (26-8): The best news Oregon received all season was back in November, when it was announced that senior forward Arsalan Kazemi had received a waiver from the NCAA to play for the Ducks after transferring from Rice during the summer. He missed the first two games but has since been an integral part of Oregon's success, averaging 9.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals, the latter two stats ranking third in the conference. Kazemi, the first Iranian-born college basketball player in Division I, could give the Cowboys trouble since they don't have a player who averages more than 6.2 rebounds.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, a No. 12 seed has beaten a No. 5 seed 37 times, including twice last season. The last time all four No. 5 seeds advanced through the first round was 2007.
Only one player on Oklahoma State's roster is from Oklahoma and three players for the Ducks are from Oregon.
Smart has scored in single digits this season more times (five) than teammate Markel Brown (four).
PREDICTION: Oregon 72, Oklahoma State 69.