The 2018-19 season has been far from a smooth ride for the Oklahoma Sooners, but it will indeed end with the program’s sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last seven seasons. It’s been revealed that OU has earned a No. 9 seed and will face 8-seeded Ole Miss in the South Region. The Sooners will square off against the Rebels on Friday at 11:40 a.m. CT in Columbia, S.C., and the winner will face Virginia if the Cavaliers aren’t bounced by a 16-seed again.
WE'RE IN!#Sooners receive the No. 9 seed in the South Region and will face Ole Miss Friday in Columbia, SC! pic.twitter.com/Ayy5GwyjTt— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) March 17, 2019
Think @MilesReyRey2 is pumped to go dancin?!#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Ce8DjviLDj— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) March 17, 2019
In total, six of the Big 12’s 10 teams made the field of 68, and I think it goes without saying that the overall strength and reputation of this conference helped the Sooners in the eyes of the selection committee. When combining the conference gauntlet with OU’s 29th ranked non-conference strength of schedule, it’s fairly easy to see how OU was given the nod over other high-major programs with similar records.
This was expected to be a bit of a stop-gap year for this program, as Oklahoma had just lost Trae Young after a lone season and still had a year to wait for a promising group of 2019 recruits. Because of this, OU wasn’t expected to make the Big Dance during the lead-up to the season, so it’s certainly possible to look at this with some sense of satisfaction. Having said that, the Sooners haven’t performed like a team that deserves to keep playing meaningful basketball. For a group as experienced as this, the inconsistent and often lackadaisical effort down the stretch has been incredibly disappointing.
I’m squarely in the camp that believes Lon Kruger at least deserves a chance to do something with the next wave of talent before riding off into the sunset, but it’s safe to say that he and his staff haven’t done enough to develop the recent personnel as players or leaders. I’m (perhaps stubbornly) holding out hope that they can hit the right notes with De’Vion Harmon & Co. in 2019-20 and beyond. In the meantime, I’m curious to see if this current group can give this OU basketball fan something to smile about before the focus fully shifts back to the gridiron.