Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Line: Oklahoma -1
Where: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Missouri
When: Wednesday, 3/8 at 9:30 p.m. ET
No. 7 seed Oklahoma State will try to strengthen its NCAA Tournament resume when it faces No. 10 seed Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday night.
The Cowboys are listed as the “first team out” in the latest bracketology projections from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, as of Tuesday afternoon. They were squarely in the field before losing five straight games in February, but they bounced back with a 71-68 win at Texas Tech on Saturday as 5-point underdogs.
Oklahoma is below the .500 mark entering the Big 12 Tournament, needing a title run to make the Big Dance. The Sooners did win two of their final three games during the regular season though, beating then-No. 23 Iowa State and then-No. 22 TCU. They lost both meetings with Oklahoma State by double digits this season, and both teams are 50-1 longshots to win the conference tournament.
Oddsmakers at offshore sportsbook BetOnline opened Oklahoma as a 1-point favorite on Tuesday afternoon. The total opened at 135.5, which is higher than each of the first two meetings between these teams.
Oklahoma State cruised to a 72-56 win at home in the first meeting, easily covering the 2-point spread in a game that landed exactly on the total of 128. The Cowboys were 3.5-point underdogs in their 71-61 win in the rematch in Norman, cashing the ‘over’ 130.5.
Senior guard Avery Anderson III has been sidelined with a wrist injury since the Feb. 1 meeting between these teams, which led to the Cowboys losing five of their next eight games. They were able to snap that losing skid and keep their at-large bid alive with the win at Texas Tech last Saturday.
The Cowboys have relied on their defense to win games this season, ranked No. 19 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings and No. 22 in effective field goal percentage. They held Oklahoma to a 41.1% clip in the first meeting and a 34.8% effort in the rematch.
Junior guard Bryce Thompson leads a struggling Oklahoma State offense with 11.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The Cowboys rank outside the top 300 in turnover rate and 3-point percentage (31.8), while they are No. 257 from the charity stripe (69.9). Their strength has been in the paint, as they are inside the top 100 in offensive rebounding rate and 2-point percentage.
Oklahoma went 9-3 in non-conference play before losing 12 of their first 15 conference games. The Sooners were able to generate some momentum down the stretch, beating Iowa State and TCU, but they still need a championship run this week to make the NCAA Tourney.
“If one path (to the postseason) is closed, open up another one,” Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser said. “Keep fighting…Until you tell me there’s no path, we’ve got to keep fighting.”
They have had plenty of issues offensively as well, ranked outside the top 300 in turnover rate and offensive rebounding percentage. Their shooting numbers have been solid though, sitting at No. 57 in effective field goal rate. Senior guard Grant Sherfield leads Oklahoma with 16.1 points and 3.3 assists per game, while senior forward Tanner Groves is averaging 10.1 points and 7.0 boards.
Oklahoma State has only covered the spread once in its last six games, and Oklahoma has covered four times in its last six games. The Cowboys are 6-1 SU and ATS in the last seven meetings between these teams. Oklahoma has gone ‘over’ in eight of its last 11 games, while Oklahoma State has gone ‘over’ in five of its last six games.
The pick: Oklahoma -1
It’s finally here. Conference tournaments are a beautiful precursor to the best two-week stretch in sports, and it creates a new dynamic for handicapping games. I am much more interested in backing experienced, trustworthy teams at this time of the year, which has me on Oklahoma to get revenge on Wednesday night. The Sooners have one of the most experienced teams in the country, and they have covered the spread in six of their last eight March games. Oklahoma State is playing without its veteran assists leader and one of its top scorers in Anderson, which has led to the Cowboys covering just once in their last six games.