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2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: BYU vs. Oregon

The BYU Cougars (23-11, 13-5) from the West Coast Conference get another crack at the Oregon Ducks (23-9, 10-8) of the Pac-12.

Oregon's Johnathan Loyd drives on BYU's Josh Sharp on December 21st, 2013 in Eugene, OR.
Oregon's Johnathan Loyd drives on BYU's Josh Sharp on December 21st, 2013 in Eugene, OR.

It's quite likely that the highest scoring game of the tournament will be one of the first games played. Milwaukee fans better enjoy fast-paced, offensively minded basketball.

What to watch for: BYU

The Cougars are a quintessential run-and-gun team. Four times this season they've hit triple-digits and ten times scored at least 90 points. Leading the scoring charge is junior shooting guard, and WCC Player of the Year, Tyler Haws. His average of 23.4 points per game ranks sixth nationally. He consistently scores in double-figures (47 straight games) but can also go off for 30+ (48 points on January 23rd at Portland).

Second on the team behind Haws is Kyle Collinsworth (14.0 ppg). The 6'6", do-it-all point guard won't be available against the Ducks, or for any subsequent games. Collinsworth tore his ACL in the WCC final against Gonzaga and is out for the season.

While his loss will no doubt make things more difficult for BYU, there are guys ready to step up immediately. Head coach Dave Rose has spent the entire season tinkering with his starting line-up. Matt Carlino (13.7 ppg), who was the starting point guard for the first half of the season, lost his job to Collinsworth. Anson Winder moved from reserve to starter for the February 20th game against Gonzaga. Winder is averaging 14.3 points over eight games as a starter.

Every player listed so far is a guard, but the Cougars have a front court presence that must be noted. Namely, Eric Mika. An immediate impact freshman who ESPN hasn't been drooling over, since he's not in the one-and-done mold they enjoy so much (he's taking a two year LDS mission after this season). Mika's 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game helped fill the shoes of Brandon Davies, who now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now that you know the names, let's get back to what I mentioned in the first sentence. The Cougars run, they run to the tune of 75.5 possessions per 40 minutes. Only three teams average more. They're able to score so many points because, not only do they get a lot of chances but, they make a lot of baskets. Aside from Matt Carlino, who's enamored with the quick three, BYU's roster if full of great shooters.

What to watch for: Oregon

Like BYU, Oregon likes to run. They're just a little more in control than the Cougars.

It all starts with Joseph Young. The junior guard takes more shots than anybody else on the team, and he makes a good lot of them. With 18.2 points per game he's the Ducks' leading scorer. His offensive rating of 128.6 is impressive.

It's impressive until you see the 131.9 offensive rating owned by Jason Calliste. Coming off the bench, Calliste chips in the third most points on the team (12.3 ppg). Another similarity to the Cougars, Matt Carlino comes off the bench and ranks third on the team. While Carlino takes a lot of threes, Calliste makes a lot of threes. He's connected on 50.8% of his 124 attempts from distance.

In the paint, 6'8" transfer from UNLV, Mike Moser, is dominant. Leading the team in rebounds (8 per game) and blocks (1.2 per game), Moser fills the role of the traditional post player. While the guards do most of the scoring for the Ducks, he ranks second on the team with 13.5 ppg. Moser's junior year at UNLV was marred with injury. Head coach Dana Altman works wonders with transfers -every Duck listed in this article is a transfer- so should come as no surprise that Moser is playing the best ball of his career.

The Game

Offense has been the focus of this article. It's the focus of these two teams and it was on full display when these two met in the December. Oregon came back at the end of regulation, and again in overtime, for a 100-96 victory over BYU in Eugene.

Though BYU has improved defensively since December 21st -almost entirely due to Anson Winder's expanded role- there's little reason to expect the rematch to be much different than last time.

Thursday, March 19th at 3:10 p.m. Eastern on truTV
No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 10 BYU Cougars
BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin