NCAA Tournament Picks: Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State

Jeff Grant

Monday, March 17, 2014 6:27 PM GMT

The No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners will need to knock down their shots from beyond the arc to advance past the No. 12 North Dakota State Bison, as the two teams face off Thursday night. While the spread sits at four points, we are expecting the Sooners to go past betting line.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2014 NCAA Tournament odds for this second round matchup in the West Region at the Spokane Arena, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:27 p.m. ET on truTV.

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Starting off 

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 Conference team and just one of nine squads nationally to start the same lineup in every game this season, with sophomore guard Buddy Hield being the leader of that group in scoring 16.8 points per game. 

The Sooners are one of the more dynamic offensive teams in the tournament field, as they entered their last affair ranked eighth in the country in averaging 82.5 points per game—up from scoring 70.6 during the 2012-13 campaign. 

NCAA basketball handicappers will find that the Sooners are 5-1 ATS in their last six games versus teams with a winning record. 

The great unknown

North Dakota State is a dangerous underdog when looking over the college basketball odds, considering its senior class of six players have combined to play in 661 career games—scoring more than 5,400 points and grabbing more than 2,300 rebounds.

The Bison enter this event as one of the hottest teams in the country—winning 14 of their last 15 games. 

It’s important to point out that the program is 20-9 ATS in its last 29 non-conference affairs. 

Kruger 

Lon Kruger is the only head coach in Division I history to take five different teams to the Big Dance, which gives the Sooners a big edge over most teams in the field in terms of experience on the sidelines. 

Kruger was named the 2014 AP Big 12 Coach of the Year due to taking a squad that lost 68 percent of its scoring and directed it to a 12-6 regular season mark in conference play. 

Shooting the lights out

The Bison entered the Summit League Tournament championship as the top-shooting team in the nation, which has been helped by outscoring opponents by an average of 37-24 in points in the paint. 

North Dakota State ranks 326th among 351 schools in three-pointers attempted this season, while Oklahoma led its conference in makes in that all-important category. 

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Outlook 

I’ve established a handicapper line favoring the Sooners by four points in this affair—a number that offers little to no value in the market at this current time. 

Oklahoma is worth a look at a number of 3.5 or lower, while North Dakota State is the play at 4.5 or higher.

Handicapper Line:  Oklahoma Sooners -4