NCAA Tournament: BYU, Oregon have played each other — and have familiar paths to Milwaukee

2014-03-18T05:21:00Z 2014-03-19T14:24:17Z NCAA Tournament: BYU, Oregon have played each other — and have familiar paths to MilwaukeeJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
March 18, 2014 5:21 am  • 

Hard falls defined the final conference-tournament games for BYU and Oregon.

The big difference is, the Ducks are expected to get their guy back for Thursday's opening game for both teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Jason Calliste took a hard spill late in the first half against UCLA on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. UO lost, 82-63, as the 6-foot-2 senior guard spent most of the second half on the sideline while team medical staff looked at his arm. He played 21 minutes and had five points.

UO coach Dana Altman said Sunday, after it was announced his team would be facing BYU again nearly three months later, that Calliste would be "fine" to face the Cougars.

That would be a good thing. He had a career-high 31 points in the first meeting Dec. 21 at home in Eugene.

It's certainly a better prognosis — sore right side, shooting arm and all – than BYU received when it lost Kyle Collinsworth for the rest of the season to a torn ACL in his right knee. Collinsworth found himself under the basket as Gonzaga scored a layup last Tuesday. The sophomore crumpled to the ground with another pain in that knee he also hurt Feb. 15 at Saint Mary's. BYU trailed by 20 points with 13 minutes left and could never fully recover.

“We’re a different team, they’re a different team, so I don’t think we can draw too much from the first game,” Altman said of the rematch. “It’s a little unusual in these circumstances. I don’t think (the NCAA selection committee) tries to do that much, I think they try to stay away from it but it’s not that big of a deal."

Altman was speaking bigger picture than a couple of injuries.

Both have their schedule scars, too.

UO went from being ranked No. 10 nationally not long after defeating BYU, and still undefeated, to falling apart in conference play. Several Duck players conceded after the "Selection Sunday" show on CBS that their postseason fate wasn't looking so good three or four weeks ago.

BYU could say the same. Several national pundits lampooned the Cougars even being in the field, let alone a No. 10 seed.

BYU (23-11) went 3-6 against top-50 RPI teams, including five losses to squads outside that realm.

Truth is, the No. 7 Ducks (23-9) look overvalued, too, heading to Milwaukee, Wis.

It looks like an exciting rematch, at least. Fast possessions, lots of scoring, a familiarity with each other that stands a chance to ease the early-goings nerves for both squads.

BYU is back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year. Oregon is trying to build on last year's No. 12 seed that turned into a Sweet 16 participant before losing to eventual national champion Louisville. Not to mention trying to somewhat atone for a 10-9 record against Pac-12 teams this season.

UO won against BYU, 100-96, after rallying from a six-point deficit with two minutes left against BYU.

Losing Collinsworth (15 points, five rebounds, eight assists that night at UO) seemed to create potential to drop BYU's seeding. The Cougars were all-around ecstatic with a No. 10, not at all concerned with formidable UW looming Saturday.

It also appears to be the perfect setup, however, for Wisconsin. The No. 2-seeded Badgers, who play No. 15 American in the game before UO-BYU, will be 80 miles from their Madison campus. A defensive-minded squad (and more athletic than most Bo Ryan teams) will likely get to face a squad that can hoist up jumpshots in a hurry.

That will be a wholly different challenge, if the Cougars can give themselves a chance.

First, beating a fairly similar team to themselves.

"They play a fun style, an up-tempo style that we like," said BYU's Tyler Haws, who had 32 points in the first meeting with Oregon.


∫Going home, as well: BYU isn't the only team with some Milwaukee connections. UO sophomore forward Elgin Cook is a native.

It was Cook who tightened up on a couple of free throws that could have broke a tie score with less than two seconds remaining in the first meeting.

∫Tip-ins: BYU's practice time Wednesday at Bradley Center is at 12:45 p.m. CDT. It is open to the public. BYU press conference for reporters is at 12:05. ...The team was expected to leave Salt Lake City at 9 a.m. on a chartered flight that included band, cheerleaders and other school officials. ...Both games will be called on CBS by Jim Spanarkel and Ian Eagle.

-- Jason Franchuk covers primarily BYU football and basketball for the Daily Herald. You can connect with him by email at or by following him on Twitter at

Read more from  Jason Franchuk here.

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