BYU vs. Oregon NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Alex Barcello #4 of the BYU Cougars lays the ball against the UCLA Bruins. Darryl Oumi/Getty Images/AFP

When much of the country is turning in and calling it a day, Tuesday’s NCAA basketball odds card offers up an intriguing matchup between a couple of teams that should go dancing as the BYU Cougars take on the Oregon Ducks.

BYU Cougars vs. Oregon Ducks

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center

Perfect for night owls and college basketball bettors chasing bad beats from earlier in the evening, BYU and Oregon both bring 2-0 records into the nationally televised matchup and are coming off impressive wins over formidable opponents. The Cougars and Ducks also each entered the season as second choices on the college basketball futures in their respective conferences, though Oregon certainly was seen as a stronger challenger to UCLA in the Pac-12 than BYU was to Gonzaga in the West Coast.

Oregon moved up a notch this week in the AP, the Ducks currently No. 12 in that poll and No. 22 in the early KenPom ratings. Brigham Young remains outside the AP top 25 but impressed enough voters to jump to No. 29 after barely getting a mention in the preseason voting.

First Meeting Since 2014 Big Dance

Though officially a neutral site matchup, the Oregon fans should far outnumber the BYU faithful inside Portland’s Moda Center. The Ducks are giving up 4.5 at DraftKings where the scoreboard target is 141.5.

The Cougars and Ducks are getting together for the 24th time, and Oregon owns a 14-9 advantage in the prior matchups. It’s been a little more than seven years since the programs encountered one another, that matchup taking place during the Round of 64 in the 2014 NCAA Men’s Tournament. Paired in the West, the 7th-seeded Ducks posted an 87-68 number on 10th-seeded BYU to easily cover the 4.5-point spread.

It was the second meeting of the 2013-14 season for the Ducks and Cougars, the first taking place at The House That Nike Built, in Eugene in December. Oregon needed a late jumper by Mike Moser to force overtime, and eventually prevailed 100-96. That was the only ‘over’ winner of the last five matchups.

Eric Williams Jr. #50 of the Oregon Ducks goes up for a shot against the USC Trojans. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Cougars Coming Off Solid Win Over San Diego State

Cleveland State looked a little better than advertised when the Vikings came to Provo last week and gave BYU fits at times. The Cougars had some shooting issues of their own, hitting under 45% from the field overall and making just 5-of-19 from beyond the arc.

The same issue plagued BYU in the follow-up game against San Diego State as the Cougars shot just 38% from the field and 22% (4-18) from 3-point range, but they made up for that on the glass at both ends of the floor to grab a 66-60 win giving up three points at top sportsbooks.

One thing that helped in both wins was solid shooting at the charity stripe; the Cougars are clicking at an even 80% on their free throw attempts (40-50) and shot better than 73% a year ago.

Alex Barcello is once again leading the way and has Te’Jon Lucas, a transfer from Milwaukee, helping in the backcourt. Fousseyni Traore has excelled the most among freshman recruits so far, the 6-6 forward averaging seven points and eight boards in the first two games.

Ducks Filthy Rich in Backcourt

Oregon also failed to cover the betting odds in its season opener against Texas Southern, though the Ducks didn’t miss by much in the 83-66 win as 21-point favorites. They followed that up with a much better effort in an 86-63 victory over SMU, Oregon giving up 7.5 to the Mustangs. The Ducks made more than 51% from the field overall against SMU and sank 9-of-20 from 3-point range.

We knew that Will Richardson would lead the backcourt, with transfers De’Vion Harmon (Oklahoma) and Jacob Young (Rutgers) getting the bulk of time at the other guard slots. And that has proven true so far with the trio on the floor more than 81 minutes per game the first two times out.

What is interesting is that when any member of the trio is on the bench, it has been JUCO transfer Rivaldo Soares taking their place. Soares was among the top junior college recruits this last year and is averaging 10.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG.

Soares gives Oregon as deep a backcourt as any other team in the country, and the Ducks should hang right there with UCLA for bragging rights in the Pac-12. But for this one evening night in November, I like the Cougars to hang with the Ducks with my free college basketball pick.

NCAAB Pick: BYU +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings