With one final opportunity to make a statement during the regular season, the Oklahoma Sooners host a top ten opponent in the Kansas Jayhawks. Set to tip off at 3:00 PM CST on Saturday, March 7th on ESPN, Misterbrain from Rock Chalk Talk joined us to preview the contest.
CCM - As Kansas and Oklahoma clash on the hardwood, two front runners for conference Player of the Year collide. Why should Perris Ellis take home the award over Buddy Hield?
RCT - If I'm being honest, I don't think Ellis should win over Hield. We did a blindfold test over on RCT yesterday (http://www.rockchalktalk.com/2015/3/5/8154607/the-blindfold-big-12-player-of-the-year-test-kansas-basketball) and my vote actually went for Hield. I think he is a much more well-rounded and consistent player, and of course the fact that Ellis is out for this game doesn't help his chances. However, if you really want me to make a case for him, I'd say he isn't that far behind Hield in the first place, and the voters love to give the award to the best player on the best team in the conference. I wouldn't be all to surprised if Ellis got it for that reason.
CCM - With the Big XII regular season crown locked up, Ellis suffered a sprained a knee. Now, Cliff Alexander has been sidelined as a precautionary measure while the NCAA probes around. Will Bill Self change the lineup to give his usual starters a bit of rest before post-season play?
RCT - We'll be down those two, but I think the other starters will play. I don't see Bill Self to be the kind of guy to just throw the game completely, but if the score starts to get out of hand at all, then he'll be much quicker to concede and put in the bench. That being said, we saw many more minutes for those who had been riding the bench all year against West Virginia, so there is a decent chance the regular starters will get more rest anyway.
CCM - The Jayhawks sit a top the conference shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc. Relying on a barrage of three-pointers to build a lead the first go around, should we expect a similar performance?
RCT - I wouldn't expect that at all. This team has been struggling from 3 recently. I could see the argument for letting them shoot away in a fairly meaningless game for the Jayhawks, but Self has never liked shooting the three just for the sake of shooting it.
That being said, we do have specific players that need to try to get back on track. I could see Brannen Greene getting the green light along with Wayne Selden and to a lesser extent Frank Mason as well. But our big guys still have plenty to work on as well, and I would expect Hunter Mickelson to see increased minutes in the post and plenty of touches.
CCM - Oklahoma has been extremely difficult to best in Norman. Are there any weaknesses the Sooners could potentially exploit?
RCT - There should be plenty, as we saw against West Virginia. But even without missing players, this team has a hard time getting out of the gate and performing well. I'm not really sure what to expect from them, as they only seem to be able to play one good half in each game.
CCM - Give us your score prediction.
RCT - I'm going to have to go with Oklahoma in this one. A couple weeks ago, this looked like a surefire loss. And the KU performances since then haven't really given me any more confidence that this team can pull off the victory. Add in the fact that Kansas doesn't really need this game and Oklahoma is fighting for position in the Big 12 tournament, and I'll go Oklahoma 75, Kansas 67.