On March 14, 1939, in Municipal Auditorium in downtown Oklahoma City, Henry Iba’s Oklahoma A&M team and Bruce Drake’s Oklahoma squad played a basketball game.
The biggest Bedlam game of them all.
The game was called an NCAA district game. The winner advanced to the very first NCAA Tournament, which consisted of eight teams in those dusty days.
The Sooners beat the Cowboys 30-21 that night in what basically was a Sweet 16 game.
Seventy-five years later, time for an encore.
What 56 years of conference basketball tournaments never have done, what Carmelo Anthony torpedoed 11 years ago, what seemed a pipe dream as recently as a few weeks ago, is at least a possibility.
OU-OSU in the Sweet 16.
The 10 members of the NCAA basketball committee have made it possible for the Cowboys and Sooners to stage a showdown unlike any other in our hoops history.
Both OSU and OU were placed in the West Regional and could meet in the semifinals on March 27 in that most Oklahoma-like hamlet of Anaheim, Calif.
Of course, the Sooners and Cowboys will have to win their way to Disneyland. And there’s the rub.
OU might be favored to get there. The fifth-seeded Sooners play North Dakota State on Thursday in Spokane, Wash., and the winners get the winner of San Diego State-New Mexico State.
Don’t underestimate the Bison. The same school that beat Kansas State in football last August plays a mean game of hoops. North Dakota State won at Notre Dame in December. And San Diego State, you know all about. The Aztecs took out the Lonny Krugers in the 2013 NCAAs.
But the Sooners won’t be physically overpowered, which means it could come down to guard play and coaching. The Sooners have lots of both.
OSU’s road to Anaheim is much more treacherous. Gonzaga is first, Friday in San Diego, and like all matchups of 8-9 seeds, that’s a tossup.
But the Cowboys are not a typical 9-seed. They’re playing much better than in mid-season, when a variety of issues brought about a seven-game losing streak. The recent Marcus Smart is back to being the vintage Marcus Smart, and having the best player on the court is always a good place to start a game.
Yet top-seeded Arizona would almost surely await in the regional quarterfinals. U of A is a bear of a team. One of the three best in America, along with Florida and Wichita State, based on the totality of the Wildcats’ season.
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