Albany have once again made their way into the NCAA tournament. Can this experienced team upset an Oklahoma team that has not won an NCAA tournament game under its current coach?
The Albany Great Danes Can Win Because…
They are going to be a lot more relaxed than they were in the final of their conference tournament. Albany played very poorly in the America East tournament championship game against the Stony Brook Seawolves. Albany was shooting under 35 percent for much of the game against Stony Brook, whose defense constantly pestered the Great Danes and never allowed Albany to find a comfort zone. The game was played in Albany’s own arena, which made the sluggish performance that much more surprising. Albany was caught off guard by Stony Brook and certainly seemed to wilt under defensive pressure for most of the day. The Great Danes did not hit a three pointer heading into the final 1:15 of regulation, when they trailed, 49-44.
Albany was fortunate to win that game. The Great Danes hit a jump shot, and then Stony Brook committed a turnover. Albany hit two free throws to make the score 49-48, and then watched Stony Brook miss one of two free throws to put the score at 50-48. Then, on Albany’s final possession, a recovery of an offensive rebound off a missed shot gave the Great Danes a last-ditch three-point attempt with 1.6 seconds left. Peter Hooley made the shot, Albany’s first three of the whole game, and the Great Danes had won, 51-50. When a team comes through so much pressure, it should then play a very relaxed game the next time. Albany tested Florida in last season’s NCAA tournament, so this team should take the court knowing it can win. Oklahoma has not yet won an NCAA game under current coach Lon Kruger. The Sooners were a victim of a 12-versus-5 upset last season. They are vulnerable to a crisis of confidence here.
The Oklahoma Sooners Can Win Because…
They have the better athletes in this game which is why NCAA Tournament odds favors them with double digits. Buddy Hield was one of the top players in the Big 12 this season. He is great in the open court, and the impressive thing about him is that when he sees his first three-pointer go in the basket, he will often sustain a high level of play through the rest of a game. Hield is excellent at maintaining a hot streak when he starts to hit shots. He will be playing against less athletic Albany defenders and will be in position to have a huge game.
Jordan Woodard is a highly skilled point guard who will help Hield and the rest of his Oklahoma teammates in this game. Woodard is the quickest player on the court in this game. He should be able to get to the rim when he wants to, and as someone who averages 3.9 assists per game, he should be highly effective in setting up his teammates for good shots. Oklahoma’s speed is what should win this game for the Sooners.
Oklahoma should have enough playmaking ability to ultimately win this game, but Albany is going to play well. This will still be an uncertain game heading into the final four minutes, add the Great Danes to your NCAA Tournament picks as they will cover the college basketball betting number.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Albany +12.5 at The Greek