Who: 7 Oregon (23-9) vs. 10 BYU (23-11)
When: Thursday 12:10 PM PT
Where: West Region, Milwaukee
Easy. This is a rematch of one of the best non-conference games of the season when the Ducks beat the Cougars 100-96 in overtime in Eugene in December and neither team has gotten any worse on offense, or any better on defense since then. Expect a close high-scoring affair between teams that can shoot the ball well.
Who are the stars?
G Joseph Young 6'2 185 Jr. Oregon
A pure scorer, Young is one of the best shooters in the Pac-12, especially from behind the three-point line and averages 18 points per-game. He can score points in a hurry and take over a game by himself, expect him to really fill it up against BYU's ultra-soft defense.
G Tyler Haws 6'5 200 Jr. BYU
Another big time scorer, Haws is amongst the nation's best in putting the ball in the basket and is a deadly shooter. He is the kind of guy who can easily rip off 30-plus on any given night, and the Ducks should know, he scored 32 in their first meeting.
F Mike Moser 6'8 210 Sr. Oregon
Oregon's senior leader can score, rebound, play defense and holds down the middle for the Ducks pretty much by himself. He can also step outside and knock down the three, keeping opposing defense on their toes.
Who can play a little defense late?
When two of the nation's best offenses and best defenses face off there is sure to be tons of scoring, but the final outcome will likely come down to who can muster up at least a little bit of defense, especially late in the game. Who is going to be able to get those stops down the stretch when they really, really need them should make the difference.
Can Tyler Haws go off?
Haws has the rare ability to take over a game all by himself with his scoring more than almost anyone else in the country, but it has been a while since he has had one of those games. It has been a while since Haws has had a 30-plus game and he might need to have one for the Cougars to keep up with the Ducks Thursday.
You're a Pac-12 fan, why do you want Oregon to win?
Maybe more than any other program in football and basketball, BYU is a perpetual thorn in the Pac-12's side. The Cougars are out West, a BCS conference-level program that isn't in a BCS conference and regularly take on Pac-12 programs and win quite frequently. The Pac-12 is 2-1 against BYU in basketball this year (Oregon and Utah beat them, Stanford lost) and a Duck win would ensure that the conference ends the year with a winning record against the Cougars.
Whoever plays defense first wins and I think that will be the Ducks. They have the athletes on the perimeter to at least slow down Haws, and if he isn't on fire, I just don't see the Cougars being able to fully keep up with the Ducks' arsenal of scorers. Haws will still get his, but won't take over and without a secondary guy like Kyle Collingsworth to chip in, the Cougars won't be able to keep up.
Prediction: Oregon 89 BYU 76