Oklahoma vs Rhode Island Preview and Prediction [Midwest Region Round 1]
Oklahoma vs Rhode Island Preview
The No. 7 seed Rhode Island Rams will take on the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners this week in the First Round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The two teams are part of the Midwest region, playing in the same bracket as overall No. 1 seed Kansas.
Before losing three of their last five games, the Rhode Island Rams were one of the hottest teams in the country winning 18 of their previous 19 games. taking home the A-10 regular season title.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, has one of the craziest rollercoaster rides of the season. The Sooners were ranked as high as No. 4 overall in mid-January, but collapsed down the stretch. They finished with an 18-13 record and an 8-10 mark in the Big 12 to earn a 10-seed in the tournament.
Oklahoma is led by point guard Trae Young, one of the most electric players in college basketball. If he plays well – they can beat anyone. If not, they can lose to anyone. If you listen to the My Fantasy Podcast, you know I am a believer in Trae Young, but he can’t do it all himself.
Rhode Island features a shut-down defense, especially on the perimeter, which is not good news for Trae Young who enjoys shooting the rock from anywhere on the court. If Young becomes a ‘chucker’ he can shoot the Sooners right out of the game. Expect the Rams to keep at least one player in Young’s face at all times.
Rhode Island’s Impact Players
Rhode Island is led by senior guard Jared Terrell who plays shut down defense and averages 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Another senior guard E.C. Matthews averages double-digits in scoring with 13.1 points, 4 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.
An X-factor for the Rams is another senior guard, Stanford Robinson, who is the best perimeter defender on this Rhode Island squad and could be tasked with guarding Trae Young for Oklahoma. Robinson leads the team with 2.2 steals per game and 5.7 rebounds per night–he also chips in offensively with 9.1 points per game. If he can shut down Young the Rams will win this game.
Trae Young then who?
We all know Trae Young is the lifeblood of this team averaging an NCAA-high 27.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game, but if the Sooners hope to advance it is the ‘other guys’ who need to show up.
Junior guard Christian James is second on the team averaging 12.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per night. He will need to approach 20 points for the Sooners to stay in this game with Rhode Island.
He might not put up big numbers, but senior forward Khadeem Lattin is the Sooners X-factor–he only averages 6.8 points per game, but he is Oklahoma’s best interior defender and will need to be a force on the glass in this game. For the season, Lattin is averaging almost seven rebounds a night and will be tasked with clogging the lane on defense.
LINE: -1.5 Rhode Island
The Rams are slight favorites in this matchup, but if they can put a stop to Trae Young defensively, they can easily win this game by double-digits.
Rhode Island 69 Oklahoma 61