Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Monday, March 01, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Gallagher-Iba Arena
Stakes of the Matchup
Most college basketball games are inconsequential. There are hundreds of teams, and only 68 of them make it to the big dance. To make it to the NCAA tournament, teams must either win their conference or make it as an at-large team. Typically, teams in weaker conferences must win their conference to make the tournament. What makes the Big 12 different is that they are currently ranked as the second-best conference in college basketball. As a result, the Big 12 expects to send several teams to the national championship tournament each year.
Baylor, currently the second ranked team in the country, plays in the Big 12. Of the ten teams that play in the “Big 12”, six of them are ranked among the AP top 25 teams. One of those teams is the 7th ranked Oklahoma team who tonight visits unranked Oklahoma State. While the Cowboys are unranked, they received the most votes of any unranked team in the last AP poll.
Despite what appears to be a matchup where OU has a clear edge, both teams are relatively equal after OU has lost their last two games. Once the AP top 25 is updated both teams are likely to either be unranked or ranked in the 20’s. Currently KenPom rates OU as the 33th best team and OSU as the 36th best team. The betting line reflects the close matchup as the Sooners are only 1.5 point favorites.
Currently Oklahoma has a 14-7 overall record while Oklahoma State has a 16-6 record. In conference play, both teams are 9-6. OSU has won their last four games while OU has lost their last two games. Basketball handicappers who believe in streaks will be inclined to bet on the Cowboys because they have been playing well recently. Additionally, both teams played on Saturday and the Cowboys won 74-71 in overtime. However, past performance is not predictive of future performance and a strong case can be made for the Sooners reverting to the mean.
How Oklahoma and Oklahoma State Match Up
On Saturday, Oklahoma was a pre-game six-point favorite against Oklahoma State, and at one point looked good as they were leading by seven points at halftime. Then the Sooners collapsed in the 2nd half and lost in overtime and now they are only 1.5 point favorites against the Cowboys. While Oklahoma did blow a large lead, they were also the victim of bad variance as they lost the rebound battle 45-28 despite having a 50.2% rebound rate of the season. For OSU to win again, they must find a new way to beat OU as OSU got lucky in Saturday’s game.
While both teams are evenly matched, both teams play much different styles of offense. Oklahoma State plays at the 19th fastest tempo in college basketball and the fastest tempo in the Big 12 as they average 76.6 possessions per game. Oklahoma currently averages only 71.9 possessions per game which is slightly higher than the median college basketball team, which averages 71.2 possessions per game. The Cowboys are going to look to run the ball up the court all game, while the Sooners will try to slow down the tempo.
Monday night’s game is going to come down to how well Oklahoma State’s offense does against the Sooners defense. According to basketball analytics website KenPom, OSU is 75th in offensive efficiency while OU is 39th in defensive efficiency. For Oklahoma State to win, they must play better on offense then they have been playing all season. Their defense is a strength as the Cowboys have the 20th best adjusted defensive efficiency in college basketball, but they will have their hands full against a Sooners offense which has the 35th best offensive efficiency in college basketball.
Monday night’s spread is an overreaction to Oklahoma’s losing streak, Oklahoma State’s winning streak, and Oklahoma State’s upset on Saturday. While Oklahoma State has a strong team, they are overvalued in Monday night’s matchup. Oklahoma should be a heavier favorite and that is why I am betting on them to cover as 1.5 point favorites at Oklahoma State.
College Basketball Pick: Oklahoma Spread -1.5 (-110) at DraftKings