It was a crazy, crazy Selection Sunday and we have to be left wondering what the selection committee was thinking on a few of their decisions.
The OSU Cowboys got a serious slight by getting left out … especially after they had 2 big wins over the No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks, took down a very tough West Virginia Mountaineers squad and beat the Sooners as well. I guess that just isn’t a good enough resume to make the cut.
On the bright side, the Oklahoma Sooners did make the grade. The No. 10 sooners will hit the hardwood on Thursday at 10:15 CT against the #7 seeded Rhode Island Rams in Pittsburgh.
The Rams have been playing consistent ball all season long. OU is going to need to create turnovers in bunches to offset the scoring of Rhode Island and also keep the assists down under double-digits and force the Rams to take shots they might not want to take. In other words, it’s all about defense on Thursday for the Sooners.
One of the things I like to do when previewing games is to follow the money. Las Vegas and online powerhouses always have an excellent read on sports outcomes. And when we check the betting odds for Oklahoma vs Rhode Island at 5Dimes, the Sooners are only 2-point underdogs.
This is a good thing for the Sooners. It means the experts setting lines in Vegas believe this game could come down to free throws and that it will be closer than some of the so-called pundits might have you believe. The only issue is the fact that the Midwest Region is undoubtedly the toughest in the tournament. You could call it the March Madness Region of Death.
Kansas, Michigan State, and Duke are all Final Four capable teams and Auburn and Clemson are potential usurpers waiting in the wings to play the role of upsetters. There have been a couple of cases of a No. 15 taking down a No. 2 throughout tournament history … but that won’t be the case with Iona and Duke this year. If Oklahoma makes it past the Rams, Khadeem Lattin, Trae Young and the rest of the boys will have their hands full against the Blue Devils on Saturday.
According to the simulations, No. 2 Duke has a 93%-win probability against the Gaels. And Coach K’s squad is the 3rd-best on the betting odds boards —just behind Villanova and Virginia— to be the last team standing at the end of the dance.
One of the biggest factors for the Sooners in Round 2 of Midwest action could be simply the ‘smooth sailing’ aspect for Duke’s first-round matchup while the Sooners have to play a competitive game against Rhode Island. Will they have enough left in the tank to really challenge duke? The talent is there for OU, but it will come down to back to back games of consistent, high-quality play and a few gallons left in the reserve tank after facing the Rams. Let’s hope that the Gaels try to put Cinderella team headlines up in the papers and make Duke play a full four quarters of hard-fought basketball. If so, the boys from Oklahoma have a shot at hitting the Sweet 16, albeit a long one.
Get your brackets ready and pick OU to move on to the second-round action. Then hope for a fantastic showing by the Iona Gaels.