Oklahoma was maybe one of the more impressive teams in the first round, never leaving a doubt in its first-round Game against Ole Miss. The same couldn’t be said for Virginia after a slow start, though it still managed a 15-point win and shed any demons from last season. The Cavaliers are -11.5 point favorites for this Game at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The Sooners have been a weird team this season, mostly because of how inconsistent they’ve been as seen in a 7-11 Conference record. They lived by their defense for the most part, but it was the offense that erupted for 95 points last Game. The main problem in this matchup is that they struggled against almost every slow-paced team faced this season, from losing by 20 points to Wisconsin to getting swept by Texas Tech and Kansas State. They beat Florida despite a terrible shooting percentage, but the Gators weren’t beating many teams early in the season.
Oklahoma’s offense was great last Game, but it ranked near the bottom of most charts in Conference play and according to those numbers, it’s hard to see them having success in this Game. The best thing the Sooners do is not turn the ball over and that’s not something Virginia tries to do. The Sooners also aren’t a team that’s going to go lights out from distance because they don’t shoot many threes, seen in the 13 threes taken in the last win. They want to attack the paint with athletic wings like Kristian Doolittle, Rashard Odomes and Christian James, while Jamal Bieniemy tries to set things up at point and Brady Manek serves as more of a stretch Four.
Getting past this defense won’t be easy since Virginia can match up at every spot with its pack-line defense. De’Andre Hunter could see the most of Doolittle, while Ty Jerome takes on Christian James and Jack Salt or Mamadi Diakite are put on whoever the bigs are. The Sooners looked great last Game, but there’s a decent chance they fall back to earth in this matchup.
Covering will depend on what Virginia can do on the other end of the cOurt. Oklahoma survived by its defense most of the season and despite having great defensive numbers for the season, it often struggled against better competition. At the least, the Sooners have the size to match up everywhere from Doolittle against Hunter with Odomes and James on Jerome and Guy. Of course, it can’t be overlooked that the Hoos actually rank better offensively than defensively this season, something that rarely happens. Ranked as the second-most efficient offense in the country, they have a little bit of everything. Guy will run around screens until he gets the perfect shot, while Jerome runs the show at 6-foot-5 and Hunter can usually get his shot whenever he want . Those are the three guys to worry about, but Braxton Key and Diakite can always be factors even if both are used for more defensive purposes. Diakite still had 17 points and nine boards in the first round.
Oklahoma has had little prior success against teams like Virginia’s throughout the season so nothing in the past year points to an upset. To have a chance, the Sooners need to attack like they did last Game and hope their defense does enough to limit Guy and Jerome from getting hot. At the end of the day, it’ll be hard to back a Big 12 team Four Games under .500 taking down ACC-winning Virginia.
Our Pick – Oklahoma +11.5