Oklahoma State was supposed to be a title contender. Marcus Smart would have been a top three pick in last year’s NBA Draft, but he decided that he needed to work on his shot, so he returned to school. Things haven’t worked out as planned and at one point, looked like they may not even make the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga has been a mainstay in the NCAA Tournament for the last fifteen years. They were once a Cinderella, but have been a favorite for a decade. They have yet to reach the Elite Eight. Is this the year Gonzaga makes history?
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Gonzaga once again won the West Coach conference regular season title and also won the conference tournament. They’ve had some really good teams in the past, but haven’t gotten very far in the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team isn’t as talented as those squads, but are still really good. The backcourt of Kevin Pangos and David Stockton are good defensively and efficiently run the offense.
To call Oklahoma State’s season as ‘up and down’ is an understatement. Their peaks have been the Andes and their valleys were as deep as the Grand Canyon. Their star guard Marcus Smart has broken chairs, pushed a Texas Tech fan and faced criticism for his decision to return to school. The Cowboys might have the most talented backcourt in the tournament, but can Smart handle the pressure?
Gonzaga and Oklahoma State will be a fun game to watch. The battle of the backcourts is enough for me to label this game as a ‘must watch’. The athleticism of Smart and Markel Brown is just too much for Pangos and Stockton to handle. OK St. will slowly wear them down and pull away late in the second half.
Prediction: #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys
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.