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BYU-Oregon Preview: BYU Opens as 4-Point Underdog

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Brigham Young Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

BYU will have a huge opportunity Tuesday night when they travel to Portland to take on the 12th ranked Oregon Ducks in the Phil Knight Invitational. The game will played in the Moda Center (Home of the Portland Trailblazers), which is about 1.5-2 hours north of Oregon’s campus in Eugene.

Opening lines were released for the game and Oregon opened as a 4-point favorite over BYU. The over/under is 141.5. KenPom predicts a 72-68 score in favor of the Ducks. Both teams are 2-0 and coming off nice home wins. BYU beat San Diego State in physical game and Oregon blew out a solid SMU team 86-63.

Oregon lost their top three scorers from a year ago, but they return some nice pieces and reloaded via the transfer portal. The top returnee is Preseason First-Team All Pac-12 selection Will Richardson. The 6-foot-5 senior guard averaged 11.3 ppg and is the Ducks leading scorer through two games with 38 total points on 8-13 shooting from three. The Ducks start three high-level transfers that they brought in this offseason from P5 programs — De’Vion Harmon (who had BYU as a finalist), Jacob Young, and Quincy Guerrier. Each player averaged double digits last season. All 5 Oregon starters can shoot and they are an athletic team that can switch positions 1-5.

Oregon goes with a small ball lineup, so they won’t bully BYU with their size. They start a 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8 guy in the frountcourt, and the three guards are between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-5. So far through two games they have only brought in one true big off the bench in meaningful minutes. Oregon has gone with a 7-man rotation early in the season, so it will be interesting to see if they continue that.

Although Oregon isn’t big, they are disruptive and can rebound. They forced SMU into 16 turnovers and and outrebounded the Mustangs 39-27, including 12 offensive rebounds. BYU isn’t as big without Richard Harward and fortunately won’t be bullied by Oregon’s size, but BYU must rebound like they did versus SDSU’s athletic frontline and avoid too many turnovers.

Oregon doesn’t have quite as much size as SDSU, but they are more skilled and are better offensively. They scored in the 80s both of their games, so BYU must shoot better from three if they want to pull the upset. Guys like Caleb Lohner, Gideon George, Seneca Knight and Te’Jon Lucas need to shoot better from three. They all have shown the ability in their career to hit threes but have started slowly the first two games.

If BYU were to win, this would be the highest ranked team BYU has beaten in non-conference since they knocked off #6 Louisville in 2007. The game kicks off at 7:00 PT and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Oregon by the numbers

KenPom Ranking: 22

Record: 2-0

2020-2021 record: 21-7, 7 seed NCAA Tournament

KenPom Odds: Oregon 63% chance to win