NCAA Tournament Picks: Back Oklahoma In Elite 8 Clash vs. Oregon

Jason Lake

Friday, March 25, 2016 4:44 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 25, 2016 4:44 PM UTC

Chalk was the right NCAA Tournament pick for both Sweet Sixteen games in the West Region. What happens Saturday when the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners take on the No. 1 Oregon Ducks?

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 25: 25-17 ATS, 1-4 Totals

The basketball gods giveth, and the basketball gods taketh away. They gave us a nice payday on Thursday when the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (–2.5) beat the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies 77-63. Just the way nature intended. Then they took it right back when the No.1 Oregon Ducks (–3) pasted the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils 82-68. Oh well. With the split, we're guaranteed a profitable season of NCAA Tournament picks here at the home office.

So let's see if we can add some more wood to the pile. The West Region wraps up this Saturday (6:09 p.m. ET, CBS) when the Sooners face the Ducks – fittingly enough, at the Pond in Anaheim, which those other Ducks call home. This game opened as a pick 'em on our NCAA Tournament odds board, but at press time, Oklahoma has already moved to –1, with a slim 52-percent majority on our consensus reports.


That's Numberwang
That would have been my first guess, too. The advanced stats have been pointing to the Sooners (28-7 SU, 13-20 ATS) as the best team in the West, with the Ducks (31-6 SU, 21-13 ATS) playing catch-up. But let's see what the latest projections have for us:

FiveThirtyEight (Elo): Oklahoma –1.5
Sports-Reference (SRS): Oklahoma –2.3

Story checks out. On paper, the Sooners “are” the better team; Ken Pomeroy has them ranked No. 6 overall (No. 14 offense, No. 14 defense) on his efficiency charts, while the Ducks have moved all the way up to No. 8 (No. 11 offense, No. 35 defense) with their strong postseason performance. Both teams will be at nearly 100 percent capacity for Saturday's game, so if we overlook that whole “clash of styles” thing, Oklahoma makes sense for a small bet at these odds.


Blame Canada
We'd better look at that clash, though, especially with the Sooners going 1-7 ATS in their last eight games and the Ducks quacking along at 7-2 ATS in their last nine. Oregon has the proverbial puncher's chance in this contest with a strong inside-outside game, leaning more toward the inside with junior forward Chris Boucher (28.0 PER, +11.8 BPM) and sophomore forward Dillon Brooks (22.1 PER, +7.7 BPM. A couple of good Canadian kids right there.

Oklahoma responds with this year's leading Wooden Award candidate, senior guard Buddy Hield (28.5 PER, +11.7 BPM), who's hitting 44.6 percent from long range. This is Oregon's weak point; the Ducks rank No. 247 in Division I in perimeter defense, allowing opponents to drain 35.6 percent of their trey attempts. Oklahoma's defense allows a high volume of inside shots, but not a high percentage, so that pretty much seals the deal for OU as far as our picks go. Enjoy the game, and may the sphere be with you.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Oklahoma +1
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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