By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Leading up to the tournament, OU’s opener against San Diego State has been one of the least talked about first round games (I still refuse to acknowledge the play-in games as round 1). Because many feel, regardless of the winner, it’s just a tune-up for a Georgetown beatdown on Sunday.
But all things considered, at least in my opinion, it may be one of the most competitive of the opening weekend. Here’s what some of the experts across the inter webs had to say on the matchups (most favor SDSU):
No. 7 San Diego State over No. 10 Oklahoma: The Aztecs are solid on the defensive end, but Oklahoma’s Romero Osby will be a tough matchup. That said, Jamaal Franklin can match him point for point and rebound for rebound. I like San Diego State to advance.
“The Sooners enter the tournament with three losses in their past five games and 0-5 against top-25 teams on the season. Six-foot-8 senior forward Romero Osby gives Oklahoma a steady presence while averaging 15.7 points and seven rebounds, but the Sooners have struggled to find much rhythm offensively of late. In their past two losses (to TCU and Iowa State), the Sooners have made just 3 of 34 3-pointers. Steven Pledger, Je’lon Hornbeak and Buddy Hield went a combined 2 for 24 on triples during those two games. That will have to change if OU wants to advance.”
“Neither team has played particularly well down the stretch or away from home. If the Sooners are going to win this game, they’ll need to feed big man Romero Osby as often as possible. If the Aztecs are going to win this game, Jamaal Franklin needs to be a consistent factor, either as an offensive threat or attacking the glass.”
“People know nothing about Oklahoma, people that follow the sport don’t know much about Oklahoma. They haven’t been on TV much, didn’t put together any long win streaks, had some bad losses and they didn’t have many signature wins. Lon Kruger’s done a good job, they’re OK on offense, need some help on defense, but the thing they do better than anything, looking at the KenPom profile, they block shots at a really good rate. But other than that, they just aren’t that inspiring. San Diego State, by the way, is a little fool’s gold. I do have the Aztecs (winning this game), but to me, they’re not a seven-seed, they should be lower than that. But I will take them to win this one, because Oklahoma has some good players, but they’re still a year away from actually being a threat to win one or two.”
Yeah, I have San Diego State. I think they’re too experienced, with Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. And like I said, I don’t think Oklahoma’s that good. I agree with you with San Diego State, I think they should have been in an 8-9 game, maybe switched with UNC, but I think they’re going to cruise by Oklahoma.
Not what I’d call an ‘expert’ opinion, but here’s my take…
OU’s recent struggles have been accurately chronicled by those who follow and cover the team. It’s a legitimate worry. But so, too, is San Diego State’s recent slump. The Aztecs, losers of three of their past five and five of their past nine, are also playing their worst basketball of the season (picked the right time, didn’t they?). So I think this is more of a toss-up than many realize (particularly the people you just read above). You could convince me either team was primed to blowout the other. No result would surprise me. So it should be interesting to watch.