OSU basketball: Cowboys might be a team to fear in NCAA Tournament

With Sunday’s at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, the Cowboys can now refocus back on its original prize: a run to the Final Four.
by John Helsley Published: March 16, 2014

The Cowboys are pushing the reset button.

Again.

Oklahoma State used Marcus Smart’s suspension to regroup and rally in the Big 12, boosting its play down the stretch in a drive to reach the postseason.

With that dedicated push now over, completed with Sunday’s at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, OSU can now refocus back on its original prize: a run to the Final Four.

No, it won’t be easy.

It might not even be likely, with the Cowboys needing wins over Gonzaga and No. 1 seed Arizona just to get to the Sweet 16.

It’s not out of the question, either.

Consider noted ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s take as a best-case scenario: “Few teams in the country have three players like (Marcus) Smart, (Markel) Brown and (Le’Bryan) Nash – each of whom can get 20 points any night. Smart’s notoriety doesn’t allow the Cowboys to sneak up on anyone, but this could be a lower seed that makes a deep run.”

And Lunardi isn’t alone. OSU is a popular choice among analysts to fill the role of team to fear, especially as a No. 9 seed.

There was a Lunardi worst-case scenario, too, which wasn’t all that complementary. And hey, the Cowboys had their issues this season, including a seven-game losing streak that contributed to an 8-10 conference finish that makes OSU the Big 12’s first sub-.500 team ever to make the NCAA field.

Yet there are things to like about this Cowboys squad currently. And remember, they once had the look of a Final Four contender, before Michael Cobbins got hurt and the journey went sideways, only to seemingly regain direction.

“We’re playing Grade A basketball right now,” Brown said. “We’re playing like a team. We’re playing like we were early on in the season. We just need that to carry on.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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