Although they suffered a convincing loss at the hands of rival Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament, the Oklahoma State Cowboys still ended up with a five seed in the NCAA Tournament, playing in the Midwest region. They will face the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks in the first round, a game that will take place in San Jose.
This is indisputably Travis Ford’s best team during his five years in Stillwater, winning 24 games, which is more than any of his other teams.
There was some question about who would be the team-leader going into this season, but there is no doubt now that this is Marcus Smart’s team. As a true freshmen, Smart is one of the most talented players in the country. Smart is the definition of an all-around player, averaging 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Smart is not the only elite player on Travis Ford’s roster. Junior Markel Brown and Sophomore Le’Bryan Nash have both stepped up to a higher level this season, averaging close to 30 points per game between the two of them.
The Cowboys also have another extremely talented freshman, G Phil forte who was a teammate of Marcus Smart at Marcus High School in Texas. Forte has averaged 10 points per game this season and is a very solid long-range shooter, connecting on 34 percent of his three-pointers.
There is no doubt that Oklahoma State will score, but its inability to pass the ball well could be a serious problem. The Cowboys averaged only 12.1 assists per game, good for 227th in the NCAA. Marcus Smart and Phil Forte are the primary distributors and both are shoot-first point guards.
The only other thing that could get in between Oklahoma State and a Final Four appearance is the fact that it is in the same region as the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville is currently riding a 10-game winning streak heading into the tournament, making them one of the hottest teams in the country.
Match-ups are big factors in deciding who advances to the Final Four, but Oklahoma State definitely has enough talent to be a potential Final Four team in the 2013 NCAA tournament.