Provo • Mostly because of its no-play-on-Sunday policy, BYU always seems to create bracketing headaches for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament selection committee.
Matters were complicated even more this year when the Cougars’ second-leading scorer, point guard Kyle Collinsworth, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the West Coast Conference championship game, although that didn’t prevent the committee from giving BYU a surprisingly high seed.
No. 10 BYU vs. No. 7 OregonThursday, 1:10 p.m. MDT at Milwaukee
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23-9 overall, 10-8 in the Pac-12
» Enters NCAAs with an RPI ranking of 25.
» Went 3-0 against Utah teams, beating BYU 100-96 in overtime, Utah 70-68 in overtime and Utah Valley 69-54 at home.
» Leading scorer is Joseph Young (18.6 ppg.), leading rebounder is Mike Moser (8.0 rpg.).
» Point guard Johnathan Loyd is brother of former BYU guard Michael Loyd, grew up with BYU guard Anson Winder in Las Vegas, attended same high school (Bishop Gorman).
Perhaps the favorable seed and their knowledge that the committee has to make special accommodations for them is what kept the No. 10 Cougars from complaining Sunday about their draw, and the fact that the committee violated its no-rematch policy. According to NCAA bracket principles, "If possible, rematches of nonconference regular-season games should be avoided in First Four and second-round games."
But the WCC’s Cougars (23-11) are playing the Pac-12’s Ducks (23-9) on Thursday at Milwaukee, despite having lost to the No. 10 Ducks 100-96 in overtime back on Dec. 21 in Eugene.
Besides, Oregon probably has a bigger beef with the committee, seeing as the Ducks are being asked to beat a team they already defeated, then play Wisconsin (if it beats American) some 80 miles away from its Madison campus. On Monday, coach Dave Rose told BYU Radio that he was more surprised by the committee’s choice of BYU’s opponent than by the seed his team received.
"I can remember the locker room in Eugene right before Christmas, the disappointment in our guys," Rose said Sunday. "We had a lead late, and kinda let it get away, and lost in overtime. So, for a lot of reasons, I think our guys will be really excited to play in this tournament against Oregon."
What the matchup lacks in intrigue and mystery should be offset by its potential entertainment value. Both teams love to run, as evidenced by that high-scoring contest three months ago. BYU is the third-highest scoring team in the country at 84.2, while Oregon ranks 11th at 81.8.
"They are a very good offensive team," Oregon coach Dana Altman told the Eugene Register-Guard. "It was a long time ago when we played them. We are different, they are different. I don’t think you draw too much from that first game. It was here, which was a big advantage for us. We made a big rally to catch them. We will have our hands full. They are a good team, well-coached, and we have to bring our ‘A’ game."
The Cougars led 83-76 with three minutes left and had the ball, but Matt Carlino missed a layup and Eric Mika committed a turnover after coming up with the offensive rebound. Oregon tied it 84-84 with 59 seconds left on Mike Moser’s jumper, then neither team scored until the 4:46 mark of overtime. Frank Bartley IV made a driving layup with 47 seconds left in overtime that would have given the Cougars the lead, but charging was called on the freshman and the basket wiped away.
Layups by Damyean Dotson and Joseph Young and two free throws by Moser sealed it for Oregon, handing the Ducks their 11th straight win and BYU its second straight loss.
"I remember it was tough because that was right after our Utah loss," Mika said. "We had them down the stretch a little bit and kinda gave it away. So, we were all pretty bummed to finish off the preseason like that before we went into our first two conference games. None of us felt like we had very good games, so I think we are all ready to play them again."
Tyler Haws led BYU with 32 points, while Jason Calliste led Oregon with a career-high 31. Calliste, an 85-percent free-throw shooter, was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line.
"We had our chances to win that game," Haws said. "They are a great team, very talented, and we are excited to get another shot at them."
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