The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles will look to continue their Cinderella run as the no. 15 seed in the South Region when they face the no. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sweet 16. Game time is set for 7:25 EST on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Razorbacks are currently listed as 11-point favorites, with the over/under set at 159 points.
Few could have foreseen the extraordinary run that Oral Roberts has made, reaching the Sweet 16 as a no. 15 seed. Not only did the Golden Eagles beat Ohio State, but they did so in overtime, giving the Buckeyes a clean slate to avoid an upset before beating them. ORU then came from behind in the second half against Florida, training for much of the game but seizing control when it mattered.
Of course, the Razorbacks also had some trouble during the opening weekend. They trailed Colgate by double figures in the first half before turning things around and winning by a comfortable margin. Arkansas also survived a wild game with Texas Tech in the Round of 32, leading by as many as 13 points but ultimately holding on for a slim 68-66 win.
Mr. Smith Goes to Indianapolis
Senior Justin Smith has been the star for Arkansas to this point in the tournament. He scored 29 points against Colgate and 20 points against Texas Tech. In fact, Smith has scored at least 20 points four times in his last six games. Freshman Moses Moody has been the offensive leader of the Razorbacks for most of the season and remains an important figure. But Smith has taken his game to another level and put the Razorbacks on his back when needed.
There is even more focus on the Arkansas stars, with the team’s rotation being trimmed to little more than six players during the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t give the Hogs must flexibility to change lineups or survive foul trouble. But with the way that Moody, Smith, and Jalen Tate played last weekend, the Razorbacks might be better off if those players spend as much time on the court as possible.
It’s hard to find a better tandem through the first weekend of the tournament than ORU’s Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor. On the season, the two combine for over 43 points per game, which is just over half of the entire team’s scoring. But they’ve taken things to another level over the past two games. Both have played every minute, with Abmas taking on the role of scorer and distributor while Obanor has produced two double-doubles, scoring a minimum of 28 points in ORU’s two tournament games.
Of course, the Golden Eagles are going to need more than those two players if they’re going to continue to advance. Unfortunately, the team’s third-leading scorer RJ Glasper, an Arkansas native, remains out due to injury. Any scoring from anyone other than Abmas or Obanor is a bonus but something the Golden Eagles will need in the Sweet 16.
Crash to Earth
It’s been a great run by Oral Roberts, but Abmas and Obanor simply won’t be enough. Smith and Moody are perhaps the better tandem, while the Hogs have four or five players who can score at a high rate. Bet on Arkansas to win and cover against Oral Roberts.
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