Oklahoma survived the Big 12 without any injuries. That feat alone is worth a round of applause. Head coach Lon Kruger has lead the Sooners to back-to-back tournament appearances. Kruger has taken five teams to the NCAA Tournament and has gone as far as the Final Four.
North Dakota State could be this year’s Cinderella team. They aren’t as flashy as Florida Gulf Coast’s ‘Dunk City’, but they are as efficient as they come. NDSU’s Taylor Braun is fun to watch and could have a future in the NBA.
Can the North Dakota State Bison knock off a major program?
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Oklahoma played in the hyper-competitive Big 12 conference. They were often overshadowed by Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State. They have some nice wins against Iowa State, Texas and Baylor. What makes Oklahoma so dangerous is that their roster is loaded with shooters. Buddy Hield is the best shooter, but nearly every starter has range.
North Dakota State ran through the Summit League and squeaked out a win against my alma mater, IPFW in the tournament final. They lead the NCAA in field goal percentage and rarely take a bad shot. Summit League Player of the Year Taylor Braun could start on nearly any D-I school. They are quite possibly the most efficient basketball team I’ve watched all season.
This game comes down to North Dakota State’s efficiency versus Oklahoma’s athleticism. The Sooners will make it difficult for North Dakota State’s offense to run by the book. Can the Bison make adjustments? I think this game will be close, but Oklahoma’s speed is hard to keep up with for 40 minutes. I know ND State might be an attractive Cinderella pick, but Oklahoma will pull it out in the end.
Prediction: #5 Oklahoma Sooners
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.