SPOKANE, WA – The 5th seed Oklahoma Sooners are hours away from their opening game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament when OU plays the Bison from North Dakota State at 6:27 p.m. our time.
The Sooners are slight favorites to win the game against a team that won their conference and had wins against Notre Dame and Delaware before post-season play began.
Lon Kruger’s crew is coming off an average showing at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City last week.
Suddenly surging Baylor surprised OU 78-73 in the quarterfinals, so Oklahoma has had one week to stew about a disappointing performance.
This game will feature a return to Spokane for Sooners sophomore forward Ryan Spangler, who transferred to OU from Gonzaga, which is located in the Washington city.
For the Sooners to win their opener, they have to continue to knock down their outside shots.
OU is one of America’s leading 3-point shooting ballclubs, led by scoring guards Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard.
Another key will be the Sooners ability to rebound against a slightly taller North Dakota State team, led by the Summit League “Player of the Year” Taylor Braun, who wears jersey #24 for the Bison. He averages 18 points per game at 6-7 and plays outside and in. Another NDSU star is 6-9 forward Marshall Bjorklund, a rugged inside player.
If OU wins their opener, Lon Kruger’s all-time NCAA tournament coaching record will be 15-14 at five different schools.
And a victory would put the Sooners into a Saturday game against the winner of tonight’s San Diego State-New Mexico State game.
The number 12 seed, North Dakota bison are back in the madness for the first time since 2009.
Bison have lost three of it’s 5 games this season but won 23 of their last 26 games.
Bison not only had a good year, they also led the nation in field-goal shooting at 51%.
Join NewsChannel 4’s Dylan Buckingham for previews of the Sooners opener tonight at 5:20 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. as well as post-game reaction tonight at 10:20 p.m.
Bison take on your Oklahoma Sooners tonight at 6:27 p.m. on TruTV.