5. Oklahoma Sooners (23-9, 12-6 Big 12)-Oklahoma boasts one of the best little-known players in the country in 6-4 sophomore guard Buddy Hield (16.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg). He will be heard from in this opening round game.
Hield has been a consistent scorer all season long, and is a terrific shooter (45% from the floor). He knocked down at least three 3-pointers in 14 of 18 Big 12 games. He also finished second in the Big 12 in three-pointers made and was named to the all-conference team.
It’s not all about Buddy, though. 6-7 senior forward Cameron Clark (15.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) was tremendously improved this season, and guards Isaiah Cousins (10.8 ppg) and Jordan Woodard (10.3 ppg, 4.7 apg) are capable scorers as well.
Oklahoma swept Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State and finished second in the rugged Big 12.
7th Points per Game (82.2)
47th Rebounds per Game
25th Points per Possession (1.11)
12. North Dakota State (25-6, 12-2 Summit)-If you’re looking for a team to come out of nowhere and make a run to the Sweet 16, this might be your group. North Dakota State is the best-shooting team in the country, ranking No. 1 nationally in field goal percentage (.509).
6-7 senior guard Tyler Braun leads the team in scoring at 18.2 points per game. He also averages 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Because of his size and ability to shoot the 3, (44% on the season), he’s gotten some NBA consideration.
6-8 senior forward Marshall Bjorklund (13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg) can go off at any time, having gone for 26 in the Bison’s 73-69 win over Notre Dame. He also scored 28 in a win over Towson. 6-7 senior Trayvonn Wright (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) could be the key for NDSU. Four of the team’s losses came in games when Wright scored fewer than 10 points. Wright is a capable scorer and can hit the 3.
The Bison have won 14 of 15 coming into the NCAA Tournament.
Field Goal Percentage 1st (.509)
Points per Possession 6th (1.15)
True Shooting Percentage 7th (59.8)
PREDICTION: North Dakota State