West Region Second Round Betting Picks: #12 North Dakota State Bison vs #5 Oklahoma Sooners

2014 NCAA Tournament
West Region – Second Round

Spokane Arena – Spokane, Washington
#12 North Dakota State Bison vs #5 Oklahoma Sooners
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7:25 pm Eastern, TV: truTV
Opening Line: Oklahoma -3 1/2
Current Line: Oklahoma -3 1/2
Opening Total: 152
Current Total: 150 1/2
Opening  Money Line: Oklahoma -185 / NDSU +160
Current Money Line: Oklahoma -175 / NDSU +155

Oklahoma is a 3.5 point favorite against North Dakota State in the West region second round Thursday in Spokane.
Oklahoma is a 3.5 point favorite against North Dakota State in the West region second round Thursday in Spokane.

The 23-9 Oklahoma Sooners surprised many by finishing second in the rugged Big 12 conference. The Big 12 had the most teams in the NCAA tournament of any conference with 7, including the Sooners who were the #5 seed in the West Region. Oklahoma opens tournament play against the 25-6 #12 seed North Dakota State Bison Thursday in Spokane. The winner will play the winner of #4 San Diego State and #13 New Mexico State in the third round Saturday. Oklahoma and North Dakota State have never played before in basketball.

North Dakota State won the Summit League regular season title with a 12-2 record. The Bison beat Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne 60-57 in the Summit Championship game to clinch the auto bid. NDSU has won 9 straight games and 14 of the last 15.  The Bison are making their second NCAA appearance all-time after losing to Kansas in the 2009 first round.

Oklahoma went 12-6 in the Big 12 and finished 2 games behind regular season champion Kansas. The Sooners were upset by Baylor 78-73 in the Big 12 quarterfinals. The Sooners were down 21 points in the second half against Baylor but a furious OU rally came up just short. The Sooners are making their second straight NCAA  appearance under coach Lon Kruger, He is one of only 2 coaches, along with Iowa’s Fran McCaffery to lead five different programs to the NCAA Tournament.

North Dakota State is coached by Saul Phillips. The Bison have losses at St. Mary’s, Southern Miss, at North Dakota, at Ohio State, at IPFW, and at Denver. NDSU went 2-1 against NCAA tournament teams this season. The Bison have key wins at Western Michigan, at Santa Clara, Rider in Santa Clara, at Notre Dame, Delaware, Towson, Utah Valley State, South Dakota State twice, IPFW twice, and Denver twice. North Dakota State is 12-14 ATS and the total is 13-11 this season.

North Dakota State is outscoring teams 76-65 this season. The Bison are #61 or better nationally in both categories. NDSU is shooting 50.9% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. The Bison lead the nation in field goal percentage. NDSU is #26 in free throw shooting making 74.7% from the line. Bison opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. NDSU is #291 out of 351 teams in 3 point defense. The Bison average 32.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 26. NDSU is #283 in rebounds and #3 nationally in rebounds allowed. The Bison average 11.8 assists, 9.8 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 4.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.2 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game.

Guard Taylor Braun averages 18.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Forward Marshall Bjorklund averages 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Forward TrayVonn Wright averages 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Lawrence Alexander averages 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1 steal per game. Kory Brown, Mike Felt, Jordan Aaberg, and Chris Kading will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Oklahoma has losses to Michigan State in Brooklyn, Louisiana Tech, Kansas twice, at Kansas State, at Iowa State, at West Virginia, Texas Tech and Baylor. The Baylor loss snapped a 3 game winning streak for Oklahoma. The Sooners went 10-6 against NCAA Tournament teams. Oklahoma has wins over Alabama in Dallas, North Texas, Idaho, Seton Hall in Brooklyn, Mercer, George Mason in Washington, DC, Tulsa, Texas A&M in Houston, Texas twice, Iowa State, Baylor twice, TCU twice, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State twice,  Kansas State, and West Virginia. The Sooners are 18-11-1 ATS and the total is 16-13 this season.

Oklahoma is outscoring teams 82-76 this season. The Sooners are #7 nationally in scoring but #308 in points allowed. Oklahoma is shooting 45.1% from the field and 37.9% from 3 point range. The Sooners are #19 nationally in free throw shooting making 75% from the line. OU opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Sooners average 37.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 33.3 per game. Oklahoma is #45 in rebounds and #290 in rebounds allowed. The Sooners average 14.7 assists, 11.4 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.5 assists, 12.8 turnovers, 5.9 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.

Guard Buddy Hield averages 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals. Guard Cameron Clark averages 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1 steal before game. Guard Isaiah Cousins averages 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Jordan Woodard averages 10.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward Ryan Spangler averages 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 block per game. Spangler played a year at Gonzaga (located in Spokane) before transferring to Oklahoma. Tyler Neal, Je’Lon Hornbeak, and Frank Booker will also get significant time in the rotation.

North Dakota State is 10-3 ATS in neutral site games, 20-9 in non-conference games, and 2-7 in Thursday games.

Oklahoma is 7-0 ATS after failing to cover, 7-1 after a straight up loss, 6-1 overall, 5-1 against teams with winning records, and 5-11 in Thursday games.

Oklahoma has a very potent offense, but they sometimes struggle on defense. North Dakota State is more balanced. The Bison certainly have the talent to pull off the upset or at least keep it close. However, I think Oklahoma survives a scare and advances.

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