Oklahoma Sooners (18-13) at Rhode Island Rams (25-7)
This week we will be focusing on the first round of the NCAA tournament. Today we will be looking at a very intriguing matchup between the ten seed Oklahoma Sooners and the seven seed Rhode Island Rams.
The Rams are -2-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 158 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:15 AM PST on Thursday, March 15th, from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Trae Young went from the next Steph Curry and the most electrifying player in the country to what might be the most polarizing player in the game. Young was the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in both points and assists in the same season. When you start to think of all the great talent that has gone through the NCAA, you realize that is quite the accomplishment.
But Young and his never-ending deep range have run into lots of problems in the second half of the year. Those insane circus shots that thrust Young’s name into the company of many of the greatest players to ever play college basketball all the sudden stopped going in at a high rate and his team suffered. The Sooners were at one point ranked as high as number four in the nation and looked unbeatable.
Oklahoma had big non-conference wins against USC, Oregon, Northwestern, and at Wichita State. They followed that up with big wins in what was one of the nation’s best leagues in the Big 12. They beat TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and biggest of all the Kansas Jayhawks. The Sooners looked poised to knock off the Jayhawks for the Big 12 crown and end Kansas’ thirteen-year streak of Big 12 regular season titles.
Then the wheels just completely fell off. Oklahoma finished the season 4-11 in their last fifteen games. The last time Oklahoma has won a game away from its home floor?
Last year. The Sooners last road win came December 30th against TCU. That makes it hard to back this team in the NCAA tournament as they won’t be playing any games on their home court.
The Rhode Island Rams rode a similar path to the tournament as the Oklahoma Sooners did this year. However, without nearly as high of peaks or as low of valleys as the Sooners experienced. Rhode Island started out the season trying to get some respect and get on the national radar.
They beat a tough Providence team, and they picked up a big win against Seton Hall, but it wasn’t enough to get themselves mentioned amongst the nations elite teams. That is until the Rams ripped off the longest winning streak in the country at seventeen games midway through the season.
Not only did that run get the Rams mentioned as a legit team, there was so much hype surrounding this team that many wondered how high they could rise in the rankings. Could this be a three seed for the Rams? Maybe even a two seed? The Rams must have started listening to their own hype because they finished the season flat, losing four of their last eight games, and dropped all the way to a seven seed.
Rhode Island is hoping they can regain that swagger that saw them go undefeated for such a long stretch of games as they enter the tournament. It wasn’t that they lost to bad teams, three out of the four losses for Rhode Island came against teams that are playing in the NCAA tournament, but had this team run the table we could have easily seen them on the three or four line, with a much softer matchup that they are going to have against Oklahoma.
Trae Young is must-see TV. Even when Young is off his game, he is always going to do a couple of things every night that make you shake your head and smile. The kid is special, and he is just a kid, as many people may have forgotten, he is a true freshman this year.
For all the fans sake, I hope Oklahoma wins this game, and we get to see more of Trae Young before his college career ends. I can’t imagine Young won’t bolt for the NBA after the season ends, so this is likely it for Young’s college career and I for one, hope it doesn’t end just yet.
His team’s recent struggles have marred what was truly a historic season for the youngster. It would be the best thing for the game to see Young and the Sooners advance. But I am not here for what is best for the game. I am here to make money. And right now, this Oklahoma team just can’t be trusted.
The Big 12 was a really good league this year. A lot of those losses for Oklahoma are completely understandable. Losses to teams like West Virginia, Kansas, and Texas Tech don’t make me doubt the Sooners ability to win games. But losses to non-tournament teams like Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Baylor make you wonder if this team can be trusted win games against good teams.
I hate to do it, but I have to side with the Rhode Island Rams in this game. I love Trae Young, but he has been too inconsistent over the last couple of weeks to be trusted on a stage this big. And this team has proven time and again that they aren’t beating anyone if Young isn’t at his best.
Maybe this will end up being a repeat of Steph Curry at Davidson, and we will see the Sooners make me look stupid as they make a run to the Final Four. Maybe Young will force up too many bad shots as he has no supporting cast and the Sooners lose by double digits. Either way, I am taking the safe pick.
Give me the Rhode Island Rams -2-points!