2022 NIT Utah State vs. Oregon: Get To Know The Ducks
Aggies host the Ducks
Can Utah State top Oregon?
Utah State gets to keep playing college basketball and will be hosting the Oregon Ducks out of the Pac-12 in the NIT. To get to know this Oregon team that was a preseason top 15 team to start the season, we chatted with our colleagues at USA TODAY’s Ducks Wire for some intel on the game.
WHO: Oregon at Utah State
WHEN: Tuesday, March 15, 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Logan, Utah; Spectrum
STREAM: FuboTV — Get a free trial
1. Oregon was a preseason top 15 team, so what happened to the Ducks? Were those expectations accurate heading into the year?
Going into this season, it was reasonable to have high expectations for the Ducks. After the handful of talented transfers that Dana Altman added to the roster, it wasn’t hard to see how Oregon could fit the pieces together and make a real run in March. It just never really happened. Maybe the pieces didn’t fit together perfectly in the end. After a tough start to the season, the Ducks went on a run during January and seemed to be clicking, but they lost 7 of the last 10 games of the season and ended up in the NIT.
2. What is the status of guard Will Richardson who has been out since the regular-season finale?
We just talked to Dana Altman earlier on Monday morning, and he said that at the moment, they don’t know if Richardson will play or not on Tuesday night. Richardson missed the final game of the regular season and all of the Pac-12 tournament with a “non-COVID-related illness,” but is meeting with doctors today to potentially get cleared for the NIT. We’ll see, but I can’t say that I feel confident in his availability.
3. Who are the key players for this Ducks team that Utah State should know?
Whether or not Richardson plays, a few key guys for Oregon will be G Jacob Young, F Quincy Guerrier, and C N’Faly Dante. Both Young and Guerrier were transfers this offseason, and they’ve done a good job of finding their roles in the offense. Both have stepped up with Richardson out as well, so you can count on them to be aggressive looking for shots. Dante has been a revelation this season in the paint, finding a nice offensive game and improving his defensive presence as well. If the Ducks are going to win, it will need to be those three players to step up.
4. What do you think is the motivation level for Oregon being in this game?
Motivation level is going to be extremely interesting to watch. With all due respect to Utah State, I think that Oregon could handle them fairly easily if this were an NCAA tournament game, but the fact that it’s in the NIT where many Ducks understandably are disappointed to be playing, I think it levels the playing field. There’s a very real chance that Oregon comes ready to play and finishes the season on a high note, but I think if they at all flirt with an early deficit to the Aggies, it will signal game over to me. I don’t see the Ducks mounting a comeback in this one if they fall behind early; they will need to lead from the start in order to win.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
To be honest, I haven’t seen anything from this Oregon team over the past few weeks that gives me confidence in picking them to beat a hungry Utah State team who happens to be hosting this game. As I said earlier, I don’t feel good about Richardson’s status, and while the Ducks still have the firepower to win without their leading scorer, the effort-level and buy-in is still going to be up in the air. If I were a betting man, I’m taking the Aggies.