Five Reasons Why the Oklahoma Sooners Can Make a Run to the Sweet 16

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Five Reasons Why the Oklahoma Sooners Can Make a Run to the Sweet 16

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Brendan Maloney - USA TODAY SPORTS

As a No. 10 seed in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament bracket, the Oklahoma Sooners have everything in place to surprise the Southern Regional and make a run to the Sweet 16. Lon Kruger’s squad finished the 2012-2013 regular season 20-11 overall and 11-7 in Big 12 Conference play -- but their record doesn’t really tell the tale.

Many of Oklahoma’s regular season losses -- apart from blowout losses to the Gonzaga Bulldogs and tough late January setbacks to the Kansas Jayhawks and Iowa State Cyclones, who were simply more talented -- the Sooners other losses were close or were total anomalies -- like the losses to Stephen F. Austin and TCU, neither teams in the tournament field. If there was a knock on Oklahoma during the regular season, this inconsistency certainly was it.

Lon Kruger has plenty of post-season experience, however, and a Southern regional 1st round match-up against Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs actually bodes well for a second-round matchup with the Georgetown Hoyas for a chance to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. We think they can do just that.

There is so much about this Oklahoma team that suggests the best is yet to come. From the outside-looking-in, this may be tough to gather -- they don’t necessarily pass the eye test -- but believe me, there is plenty of substance there. Click through to see the five reasons why the Oklahoma Sooners can make a run to the Sweet 16.

Enjoy!

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Oklahoma Has a Stealthy Star in Romero Osby

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Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY SPORTS

While he may not be a household name -- yet -- Oklahoma senior forward Romero “Ro” Osby is a star in the making. The 6’8”, 232 pound Meridian, Mississippi native and Mississippi State Bulldogs transfer has been one of the mainstays for Lon Kruger’s squad this season, averaging 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in an average of 28.5 minutes per evening. Osby also shoots a team best 52.2% from the field and an outstanding 79.6% from the line. No matter if it’s San Diego State’s J.J. O’Brien, or Georgetown’s Greg Whittington that has to guard him, they will have their hands full with a guy that’s quickly gaining respect across the basketball landscape.

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San Diego State’s Guard Heavy Lineup Is an Attractive Matchup

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Reese Strickland - USA TODAY SPORTS

The top three scorers for Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs squad are guards -- Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames. Oklahoma’s defense has done a rock solid job prior to the NCAA Tournament holding defenses to an average of 41.7% from the field and only 32.7% from three. As it stands, the Aztecs are shooting only 32.4% from three as a team so far this season, so if Oklahoma can continue to deliver quality perimeter defense which forces the Aztecs to turn to an interior game which isn’t nearly as productive, things definitely will tip in the Sooners’ favor.

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Georgetown’s Otto Porter Can Be Neutralized With Athleticism

porter
Peter G. Aiken - USA TODAY SPORTS

The Georgetown Hoyas go as Otto Porter goes. Assuming the Hoyas get past Florida Gulf Coast -- and it’s silly to assume they won’t -- Oklahoma will have to neutralize Porter to have any chance at moving on to the Sweet 16. It just so happens they have the defensive ability and the athletes to do just that. While at 6-8, 205, Porter can be a nightmare both on the interior or exterior, guys like Romero Osby and Amath M’Baye have enough athletic ability to stay with him anywhere on the court. Look for Oklahoma to shadow, or maybe even box-and-1 Porter and force everyone else to beat them should that matchup materialize.

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After a Rough Regular Season Finish, Oklahoma Has a Chip on Their Shoulder

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Peter G. Aiken - USA TODAY SPORTS

After a rough finish to the regular season -- which included a bizarre meltdown loss to bitter rival the Texas Longhorns in Austin -- Oklahoma arrives in the Liberty City with a serious chip on their shoulder -- with something to prove. While this type of attitude can sometimes work against you as easily as for you, a coach with the level of post-season experience that Lon Kruger has will be sure to mold that attitude into a positive, motivating factor for a team hungry to prove they are better than their 20-11 record suggests.

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Overall Talent Level and Depth is On Oklahoma’s Side

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Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY SPORTS

Even in a potential matchup against Georgetown in the second round, the Oklahoma Sooners are the deepest team in the Philadelphia mini-region. Georgetown is dependent on Otto Porter and top-heavy in terms of scoring balance and the Aztecs are too guard-heavy -- any lack of production from these guards or Porter (as mentioned previously) plays right into the hands of an Oklahoma team that has enjoyed scoring balance and a total team effort on defense throughout the 2012-2013 season with a few outlier exceptions.

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