March 21, 2013
Pregame Tip: Oklahoma State begins NCAA Tournament play
It's finally here.
The Pokes have made their return to the NCAA Tournament and March Madness, and they tip off with Oregon at 3:30 p.m. CST in San Jose, California.
I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you to have blood pressure medication and possibly an inhaler or two on hand, as this is the "Cardiac Cowboys" we're dealing with.
Anyway, back to the subject.
No. 5 Oklahoma State (-2) vs. No. 12 Oregon should be a fun one. Five seeds own this matchup in the first round by going 91-41 all-time in the history of the NCAA Tournament, but this isn't your typical matchup.
As you've probably heard all week, Oregon is severely underrated at a No. 12, a seed that means the bracketing committee saw them in the 45-50 range as far as where they ranked in the nation despite the Ducks being included in the Top 25 the last couple of weeks.
Neither team has any tournament experience, so we could see some crazy stuff today as these young guys try to figure it out quickly.
It'll come down to doing three things for Oklahoma State today if they want to get out of the first round in 2013. Let's dive in.
No. 1: Manage the nerves
So far this season, Marcus Smart has stood firm in the depths of places like Allen Fieldhouse and the Hilton in Ames, IA, but this is a whole new ballgame today. He, just like the rest of the guys playing, have never been here before. They have to get the jitters out early if they don't want to fight back from a deficit. Smart is the biggest one on this. It's not likely that you'll see many butterflies from the frosh, and if he comes out with an icy demeanor as always, scoring and distributing to guys like Markel Brown and [/db]Phil Forte[/db], it'll be a long day for the Ducks who are already at a disadvantage by having a smaller guy guard him (Dominic Artis, 6'1, 185 pounds compared to Smart at 6'4, 225lbs).
No. 2: Get Le'Bryan Nash going early
That's the secret to success for the Cowboys. The team is 14-4 this season when Nash scores at least 14 points (he averages 14.1 points per game this year), and he's so streaky that Travis Ford has to get him going early in each half if he wants his team to operate at full performance. In today's matchup, Nash has an inch and about 15 pounds on the guy who will likely be guarding him (Oregon forward E.J. Singler, so why not isolate him on the left wing and let Nash get comfortable early? Don't be surprised if/when you see it.
No. 3: Grab boards
Something has to give in the frontcourt. OSU big men Philip Jurick and Michael Cobbins are more of a defensive-oriented tandem while Oregon forwards Arsalan Kazemi and Tony Woods focus on offense with Kazemi grabbing a bulk of the team's rebounds. Cobbins and Jurick also have size advantage, with Cobbins having an inch on Kazemi and Jurick having about 20 pounds on Woods. OSU has to own the paint and not give a very balanced scoring team in Oregon second chances at buckets. If the two big men, along with Nash and Smart, make solid contributions to the rebounding game, that could squash any kind of chance the Ducks have at pulling out a win.
The team's tip off in San Jose, California at 3:30 CST. The game will be televised on TNT.
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