Travis Ford couldn’t have felt great when the bracket was announced on Sunday. His Cowboys, a #5 seed, were paired with the most under-seeded team in the Dance, the Oregon Ducks. It was obvious that the selection committee had no respect for the Pac-12, as the Ducks finished second in the regular season Pac-12 race and were apparently on the bubble until winning the conference tournament over the weekend. The folks over at Busting The Bracket think Oregon should have been a #5 or #6 seed, as a contrast. The committee didn’t seem to care that four of Oregon’s eight losses came without one of its best players, freshman guard Dominic Artis, who leads the team with 3.4 APG. With Artis in the lineup, the Ducks beat UNLV, Arizona, and swept UCLA.
Nate Silver gives the Cowboys a 60.5% chance of beating the Ducks and Vegas has OSU as a three-point favorite. If Oklahoma State can survive the Round of 64, it will face a Final Four sleeper before the Sweet Sixteen, #4 seed Saint Louis. The Billikens have become a dark horse to make the Final Four during the last month or so. They swept the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championships ahead of more nationally-popular programs such as Butler and VCU. They went 5-0 against those teams this year and beat #3 seed New Mexico by 14 at home on New Year’s Eve. The Billikens were constructed well by the late Rick Majerus and have been led by senior Kwamain Mitchell, who averages 10.4 PPG and 3.0 APG. Like Oregon, Saint Louis can discount a few losses while Mitchell was out with an injury. He sat out the beginning of the year and the Billikens still went 8-3. Since his return on December 28, they have won 19 of 22 games. Take out the losses to Santa Clara and Washington without Mitchell and you could argue they should be a #3 seed, more bad news for Oklahoma State.