Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#855 UCF vs.
#856 Oregon
Sunday, March 19, 2023 at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Chris King

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It’s the second round of the NIT on the hardwood as a member of the AAC makes the trip to the Pacific Northwest to take on a member of the Pac-12 with the winner moving on while the loser goes home. The UCF Knights are on the road as they make the cross-country trek to face the Oregon Ducks Sunday night. UCF advanced as they dispatched Florida 67-49 in their first-round tilt, winning outright as a 2.5-point underdog, Wednesday night. Oregon drubbed UC Irvine 84-58 at home in their first-round matchup Wednesday night, easily covering as a 5.5-point favorite. This marks the first time that the programs have met as Division I teams.

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UCF Knights Look to Earn Second Road Win of Tournament

UCF put together a solid showing as they stifled Florida in the swamp to earn a win in the opening round and advance to this contest. The Knights improved their record to 19-14 on the season overall and they were 8-10 in the conference on the season. Against Florida, UCF trailed 9-2 just over two minutes into the game but took control by reeling off a 20-3 run that gave them a 22-12 advantage with 8:34 to go in the first half. The Knights were up nine at the half and didn’t let the Gators closer than seven the rest of the way to secure the victory. UCF shot 52.7% from the floor, including six of 15 from three-point range, won the rebounding battle 39-29 and held Florida to 32.2% shooting in the game. C.J. Kelly led the Knights with 21 points in the win.

The Knights put up an average of 72.1 points per contest (171st in the country) this season. UCF pulls down 35.1 rebounds per contest while dishing out 14 assists per game this season. The Knights are an above-average team on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 48th in the nation by allowing 65.5 points per game. Taylor Hendricks leads the Knights and is one of four players averaging in double figures as he puts up 15.3 points plus 6.9 rebounds per contest this season. Darius Johnson (10 points, 4.3 assists), Ithiel Horton (12.4 points), C.J. Kelly (13.3 points) and Jayhlon Young are solid secondary scoring options. Brandon Suggs, Michael Durr, C.J. Walker, Thierno Sylla, Lahat Thioune and Tyem Freeman are all important rotation players for the Knights. UCF is shooting 43.2% from the floor as a team this season. The Knights drain 8.8 triples a night while shooting 36% from beyond the arc. UCF is cashing in a stellar 77.1% of their chances at the free throw line, which leaves them 20th in the nation in that department.

Walker is expected to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.

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Oregon Ducks Seek to Reach Quarterfinals

Oregon had little problem dispatching UC Irvine in their first-round matchup at home Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the NIT. The Ducks ran their record to 20-14 overall and they were 12-8 in the Pac-12 on the season. Against UC Irvine, Oregon led by just two midway through the first half before reeling off a 12-0 run to take a 28-14 lead with 7:25 to play in the half. The Ducks led by 13 at the half and didn’t let the Anteaters closer than nine the rest of the way to earn the win. Oregon shot 40.3% from the field, including 12 of 28 from three-point range, and controlled the glass by a 56-44 margin. Rivaldo Soares led the Ducks with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

The Ducks are 192nd in the nation in scoring offense as they average 71.1 points per game this season. Oregon is grabbing 37.6 boards a night while they are handing out 13.3 dimes a night. The Ducks are above average defensively, ranking 78th in scoring defense as they allow 66.8 points per game. Will Richardson is third on the team with 12.2 points plus 5.1 assists per game this season. N’Faly Dante (13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds) and Jermaine Couisnard (12.8 points) are solid secondary scoring options. Quincy Guerrier, Rivaldo Soares, Keeshawn Barthelemy, Kel’el Ware, Nate Bittle, Brennan Rigsby, Lok Wur and Tyrone Williams are key contributors for coach Dana Altman’s group. Oregon is shooting 44.8% percent from the field as a team this season. The Ducks are draining 7.2 triples a night while shooting 32.3% from beyond the arc. Oregon is shooting a mediocre 70.4% from the free throw line as a team this season.

Couisnard (shoulder) missed the last two games while Dante (ankle) missed the game against UC Irvine. Both are listed as questionable for this contest so watch for updates on their statuses leading to tip-off.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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UCF put together a solid defensive showing in their game against Florida but it might be a little tougher sledding against Oregon, especially if Dante, Richardson and Couisnard take the floor. The Knights, even with their win over the Gators, are still just 5-6 as the road team on the season and beat a Gators team that was without their best player in Colin Castleton. The Knights have to travel to what is a hostile environment as Oregon has posted a 14-5 record as the home team this season with wins over Arizona, USC and Nevada among others. It’s tough to back a sub-.500 road team in an environment like Eugene in a postseason tournament. Take Oregon as they move on to the quarterfinals.

Prediction: Oregon Ducks -3.5

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Full-Game Total Pick

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UCF has seen the over post an 18-14-1 mark in their 33 games this season with a posted total entering this contest. The Knights have major issues turning the ball over as they stand 282nd in the country in turnover percentage at 19.7%, which offsets that they are 24th in offensive rebounding percentage at 34% on the year. UCF is a painfully slow-paced team as they come in 316th in the nation in adjusted tempo according to KenPom with 64.4 possessions a night. On the year, the Ducks have gone over the total in 18 of their 34 games heading into this game. Oregon comes into this one ranked 31st in offensive efficiency and 66th in defensive efficiency this season. The Ducks have improved on their defensive work as the season has gone on as they are 57th in effective field goal percentage defense (47.8%) on the year. Oregon is 221st in tempo with an average of 66.3 possessions a night this season. With both teams playing at a slower-than-average pace, lean toward the under in this contest.

Prediction: Under 137.5

Written By Chris King , "Chris King"

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.