No. 23 DePaul Draws Oklahoma in NCAA Tournament Opener

Irene MckinneyMar 15, 2018

TBS' NCAA selection show may not have been a hit with viewers Sunday, to say the very least, but one aspect of the telecast that went over well was Charles Barkley's questioning of Oklahoma's inclusion in the tournament. The host school has a first-round matchup against No. 16 Nicholls.

Injuries plagued FGCU for most of the season, as they did not have one game until the conference tournament where every scholarship player was active.

In mid-January, Oklahoma was soaring.

But then the January 16 game at Kansas State happened and things cratered.

Oklahoma won just once in February, but its impressive résumé and accomplishments before then is why the Sooners are still a legitimate NCAA Tournament threat.

Now, Lattin is the only senior on the Oklahoma roster, but juniors Christian James and Rashard Odomes were part of that Final Four season, too.

"We're a team that got so married to making shots that when we didn't make shots at a high clip that really affected everything else", Kruger said. "It's been rough. It's been tough on the road". The Cowboys are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss. Also, the Eagles got a big lift from Michael Gilmore after he had to sit out the first half of the season after transferring from Miami, as he led the team in rebounds.

"I know our team has a big chip on our shoulder", said Young, who leads the nation in points per game and assists. I feel like we have a good resume.

"Not a lot of people think we should be in, which is fine".

"The committee kind of revealed to everybody that they thought more highly of Oklahoma than anyone who was watching", Bilas added.

But here the Sooners are, a 10-seed in the Midwest region set to face Rhode Island on Thursday and trying to erase that final month of the season from their collective memories.

Thursday's opponent, Rhode Island (25-7), earned an at-large bid after falling to red-hot Davidson in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game. Among them will be the potential four first-round picks that the Duke Blue Devils present, as well as potential top four picks DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and Jaren Jackson Jr. of Michigan State.

"It's going to be fun", Rams star guard Jared Terrell told the Providence Journal. "It's something you've got to get up for".

Oklahoma will go as far as Trae Young carries them, so it will try to see if he can carry it past a first-round game against Rhode Island.

Each had a different critique of Oklahoma, with Barkley noting the way the Sooners stumbled badly down the stretch and Vitale wondering how they could have been chosen over in-state rival Oklahoma State. "It's excitement. You get to play on the biggest stage college basketball has to offer".

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