OKLAHOMA TAKES ON RHODE ISLAND IN THE OPENING ROUND OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
It is here. The biggest Dance in all of basketball begins today. 10-seed Oklahoma (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) squeezed into the NCAA Tournament due to their stellar, unexpected rise to the top of college basketball with a 14-2 start. They will take on the Atlantic 10 regular season champs in the 7-seed Rhode Island Rams (25-7, 15-3 Atlantic 10).
Both teams stumbled to the finish line. The Sooners fall was a little more extreme and well documented (losing eight of 10, and 11 of 15), but Dan Hurley’s group has gone 4-4 to finish the season after starting 21-3 and rising to their highest ranking in the AP poll in school history (16). Trae Young and the Oklahoma Sooners have a chance to prove their doubters wrong, but they will have to do it against an experienced (four senior starters) team who has been, and won, in the Big Dance before.
WHEN: 11:15 a.m. CST
WHERE: Pittsburgh, Pa.
LISTEN: 107.7 The Franchise OKC; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa
TRAE YOUNG CAN MAKE HISTORY IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Trae Young has been putting up historic numbers this season, becoming the first player to lead the country in scoring (27.4) and assists (8.8). He was named the USBWA’s Wayman Tisdale Award winner given to the most outstanding freshman in college basketball, and was a consensus pick from both the All-Big 12 voters and Big 12 coaches for an All-Big 12 First Team selection.
Heading into today’s game, Young is 16 assists away from the NCAA freshman assists record held by Bobby Hurley (Duke, 1989-90). He has already surpassed 800 points and 250 assists this season–the most by any player in college basketball history.
Oklahoma was known for their fast pace of play, making shots, and their star freshman during their run early in the season. The Sooners are 13-1 when they hit more than 10 3s in a game, and 11-2 whenever they hit more shots from behind the arc than their opponent.
Trae Young has only shot at 40 percent or greater twice in his last 10 games–his worst stretch of the season. Brady Manek has not hit more than three 3-pointers in a game in the last 10 game. It is a lot to hang on two freshman, but the Sooners are 6-0 when Manek hits more than three 3s, and 10-4 when Young shoots at or greater than 40 percent from behind the arc.
SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
If Oklahoma survives and advances, they will take on the winner of 2-seed Duke and 15-seed Iona on Saturday, March 17th. Kansas (1-seed), Michigan State (3-seed), and Auburn (4-seed) are the other top seeds in the Midwest Region. The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight will be played in Omaha.