After thoroughly dismantling Ole Miss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 9th-seeded Oklahoma Sooners have been given the chance to play play the role of giant-killer against the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers in the Round of 32. Lon Kruger’s team is the clear underdog in this matchup, so in order to pull off the upset over the Cavaliers and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, OU will need to play its absolute A-game from start to finish.
Oklahoma (20-13, 7-11 Big 12) vs. Virginia (30-3, 16-2 ACC): Approx. 6:45 p.m. CT at Colonial Life Arena (Columbia, SC)
Commentary: Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Radio: Sooner Radio Network (KRXO 107.7 FM “The Franchise” in Oklahoma City; KTBZ 1430 AM in Tulsa) with Toby Rowland and Kevin Henry announcing
Line: Virginia (-10.5)
- Following the regular season, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett was named ACC Coach of the Year and is a four-time honoree. After leading the Cavs to a second-straight No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, the ‘Hoos fully expect to be in Minneapolis for the Final Four as legitimate national title contenders.
- The Cavaliers are a good-if-not-great offensive team, but as efficient they are at moving and scoring the ball, they’re flat-out elite on defense. Coming into the tournament, Virginia led the nation in scoring defense, three-point percentage defense, and was fourth in field-goal percentage defense and adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Familiarize yourself with the names Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter, because odds are those two UVA players will most heavily influence how this game unfolds. Both are guards, and both were named First Team All-ACC, but beyond those similarities, the differences in each of their games perfectly compliment the other’s. The diminutive Guy is more of a sharpshooter that routinely hurts teams from deep, while Hunter likes to utilize his mid-range game when he’s not outright attacking the basket.
- Just how dialed in were the Sooners on Friday? Out of all 32 first round games, no other team scored more points than Oklahoma (95) nor shot a higher percentage (57.6%). It’s safe to say that OU was at its best, and although the Rebels had perceptible deficiencies in key areas such as rim protection, it was still up to this veteran-led squad to take advantage of said weaknesses. Clearly that happened and then some.
- Over the season, junior forward Kristian Doolittle has gradually risen to the top of Oklahoma’s go-to list, and his capabilities were on full display against Ole Miss. After posting 19 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals, he proved his presence on the court is vital for the Sooners’ run this postseason. If he continues to have a similar impact, OU should have a puncher’s chance against UVA.
- As was the case with Ole Miss in the first round, Oklahoma has a chance to tie the overall series with Virginia, who coming into the matchup has won two of three all-time meetings. With that said, this might be the biggest mismatch on paper out of all the previous games between the Sooners and the Cavaliers. For OU, this would be as good a game as any for the term March Madness to live up to its reputation.
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