It was announced this morning that the site of the NIT match up between the Michigan Wolverines (19-11) and Oklahoma Sooners (20-10) would be Crisler Arena on Monday, March 22nd at 9pm. Much like Michigan’s previous NIT opponent, Oklahoma was a pre-season lock for the NCAA tournament by many prognosticators. Kelvin Sampson’s bunch had made it to the Elite Eight and Final Four in the previous 2 seasons, and Big Dance in each of the previous 10. However they’ve struggled more than many projected they would after the loss of seniors Hollis Price, Quannas White and Ebi Ere. Injuries and suspensions this season have only served to make the situation more precarious.
The Sooners suffered a huge blow earlier in the year when 6-8, 265-lbs, preseason Wooden Award candidate, Kevin Bookout was lost for the season in late January because of surgery on a severely sprained shoulder. Their troubles were compounded when starting center, 6-10, 220-lb. Jabarhi Brown was suspended for the remainder of the campaign in early March because of marijuana possession. As of a result the Sooners have become primarily of perimeter team led by diminutive freshman PG Andrew Lavender. The former Columbus Brookhaven standout leads his team with 11.6 points, 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. Senior wing Jason Detrick is second on the team with 11.5 points per game.
The roster subtractions have only served to make a youthful line-up even more so. They’ve received a boost recently from 6-6 205-lb freshman Brandon Foust. The Columbus (Oh) native is playing out of position at power forward, but led the Sooners in scoring with 19 in their first round victory over LSU. Sampson, a former Michigan State assistant, singled out the Foust’s effort after the victory. "Brandon Foust had so much confidence and poise,” Sampson said. “He was a key to the game.”
The game will be televised on ESPN 2. Tickets for the game are now on sale for the following prices; $15 for lower level, $10 and $5 for upper level, and $5 for students. For information on how to purchase tickets, click here.